EU inquiry into Apple’s tax arrangement in Ireland delayed

Regulators will miss June deadline because they lack certain data, says commissioner


The European Commission’s investigation into Apple’s tax arrangements in Ireland has been delayed.

European competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager said regulators would miss a June deadline to decide whether tax deals granted by individual member states to companies including Apple and Starbucks are legal because they lack some data.

The investigations launched last year centre on Luxembourg’s tax rulings for carmaker Fiat Chrysler and online retailer Amazon, as well as coffee chain Starbucks’s deal with the Netherlands and Apple’s Irish arrangements, and whether they are paying a fair share of tax.

Ms Vestager, who had previously set a second quarter deadline for her decision, said it was taking longer than expected to get the relevant information. “It is clear that obtaining information is both challenging and time consuming. We do not necessarily get the information the first time or the second time. Therefore we will not meet the first deadline to be done by the end of the second quarter. We will do our best,” Ms Vestager told the European Parliament. “I will not give deadlines for the finalisation of these cases,” she added.

The European Commission can order authorities to recover unfair state aid, which in the case of the four companies could run to millions of euros.

Apple in a regulatory filing last week said a negative decision could have a material impact. Vestager said Poland, Estonia and the Czech Republic have yet to provide details of the companies granted tax rulings between 2010 to 2013.

The EU competition authority asked all 28 EU countries for information on the issue in December last year as part of a broader probe into corporate tax avoidance.

Ms Vestager said she was reviewing the information provided by trade unions accusing US fastfood chain McDonald’s of avoiding taxes in a deal with Luxembourg to see whether it merited an investigation.

The Commission is also investigating Belgium’s tax arrangements for multinationals.