Government releases €264m to Apple following tax claim from another country

Escrow account set up following 2016 European Commission ruling dropped in value to €13.6bn at end of 2021

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe released €246 million to Apple after another country made a claim on money in the €13.6 billion escrow account set up after the tax dispute with Brussels, the State’s fiscal watchdog has said.

The transfer to Apple was set out in the annual report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG), which said the €14.3 billion placed in escrow in 2018 had dropped in value to €13.64 billion at the end of 2021 from €13.99 billion in 2022.

The tax claim from other country — not named in the report — was the main reason for the latest decline. Most of the remaining €105 million drop in value reflects the negative-interest-rate environment then prevailing, and negative bond yields.

The escrow account was set up to hold back taxes allegedly due to Ireland from Apple after the European Commission ruled in 2016 that the company benefited from illegal State aid in its tax affairs.

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The government won a challenge against that ruling in an appeal to Europe’s second-highest court, prompting an appeal from the commission to the highest EU court.

The C&AG report was released on the same day as a visit to Dublin by EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager, who handed down the 2016 tax ruling against Ireland.

She detected no ill-feeling over the dispute at meetings with Taoiseach Micheál Martin, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar and Mr Donohoe, saying “none whatsoever” when asked whether she detected any grudge.

The hospitality in Ireland was “even better” than at the commission’s Berlaymont headquarters in Brussels, Ms Vestager said. Having previously expressed hope that her European Court of Justice appeal would succeed, she said “that has not changed”.

The C&AG said the release of money to Apple came after the company made a claim for a “third country adjustment” in April 2021.

“The commission’s decision noted that the profits to be subjected to tax in Ireland for the period covered by the decision could be reduced if Apple was required to pay taxes in another jurisdiction in respect of (some of) the same profits,” the report said.

“On 25th May, 2021, following the appropriate determinations by the Minister for Finance, with advice from the Revenue Commissioners, €246 million was transferred from the fund to Apple in respect of the claim.”

Arthur Beesley

Arthur Beesley

Arthur Beesley is Current Affairs Editor of The Irish Times

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times