Joseph Stiglitz says Ireland should not appeal Apple ruling

Economist says: ‘You got jobs at the cost of stealing revenues from other countries’

Economist Joseph Stiglitz says the Irish government is wrong to appeal the EU decision on Apple and its tax obligations. Photograph: Christopher Goodney/Bloomberg

Economist Joseph Stiglitz says the Irish government is wrong to appeal the EU decision on Apple and its tax obligations. Photograph: Christopher Goodney/Bloomberg

 

Nobel prize winning economist Prof Joseph Stiglitz says the Irish government is wrong to appeal the EU decision on Apple and its tax obligations.

He described comments by Minister Richard Bruton on RTE’s Today with Sean O’Rourke Show, in defence of the government’s position, as ‘utter balderdash.’

On the same programme Prof Stiglitz said: “the fact is that you were encouraging tax avoidance, you knew it.

“Let’s not make any pretence about it, you got a few jobs at the cost of stealing revenues from countries around the world. That’s the kind of activity that has to be stopped.”

He said that the question now was: “what are the rules of the game about tax competition, about state aid and it’s very clear if a company says that they got revenue associated with Ireland, you have to pay a tax on it.

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“Whether that income was correctly attributed to Ireland is another matter. If Apple is saying that this is Irish income, you have an obligation to impose taxes on income that they say originated in Ireland.

“Apple is claiming that the income was associated with activities, that’s why they said they could book it to an Irish subsidiary. Can they book it to a subsidiary for activities not occurring in Ireland? The issue is, if they book it to Ireland should there be an Irish tax?

“That’s what the issue is. They were booking it to an Irish subsidiary and they were not paying taxes.”

Prof Stiglitz said he found it mystifying that Ireland didn’t “just pocket that €13billion and use it for the enormous hardship that the people of Ireland have had to face.

“The argument that you will lose lots of jobs is absolute nonsense. It’s a new world, it’s very clear that the rules of the game have changed, under those new rules Ireland will have to compete on the basis of going forward, what it can provide economically.

“I think Ireland can provide a lot - it has a well trained labour force, a disciplined labour force, and that is the basis on which countries should compete, with infrastructure.

“This idea that all these people will leave and their jobs will disappear is a vote of lack of confidence in Ireland. I’d rather have a vote of confidence in Ireland and say, maybe a few people engaged in cheating, relatively few, but nothing to compensate for the loss of the €13billion.”