Apple tax bill spending would be restricted, Noonan claims

Minister says EU rules mean the money could not be used for current expenditure

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan has said the €13bn Apple tax bill could not be spent on ongoing expenditure if it was accepted by the Government.  Photograph: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan has said the €13bn Apple tax bill could not be spent on ongoing expenditure if it was accepted by the Government. Photograph: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images

 

The €13 billion Apple tax bill could not be spent on ongoing expenditure if it was accepted by the Government, Minister for Finance Michael Noonan has told the Dáil.

He said the amount that could be spent on capital projects would be quite restricted under EU fiscal rules.

“If this was available to be spent, it would be regarded as windfall, and the fiscal rules say you cannot spend it for ongoing expenditure,’’ he said.

“So, in other words, in our language, you could not use it for current expenditure.’’

The Minister was replying to a question on Wednesday night at the conclusion of the Dáil debate on whether to appeal the European Commission’s ruling that Apple owed Ireland €13 billion in back taxes.

Mr Noonan said the money, if accepted, could be used for debt reduction and, in theory, for capital projects.

However, because it was likely it would accrue to the exchequer in one year, the Government’s capacity to spend would be caught in the fiscal rules.

“You would not have fiscal space to accommodate it,’’ he said.

Surprise

Mr Noonan said he was surprised by some elements of the announcement of the €13 billion tax bill.

He said he was telephoned on August 23rd, a week before the announcement, by European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestage.

A meeting of the college of commissioners was scheduled for the second week in September and he said he had signalled he expected a decision this month or next.

Ms Vestage told him the commission was proceeding with the issue by way of written notification.

“I was very surprised it did not come from the college after the meeting,’’ he said.

He said it was an “unexpectedly early announcement’’ in the end.