State must appeal EU’s Apple tax ruling, Micheál Martin says

Fianna Fáil leader criticises Government’s ‘lack of preparation’ for the judgment

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has said it is ‘essential’ that the State appeals the EU’s Apple tax ruling. File photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has said it is ‘essential’ that the State appeals the EU’s Apple tax ruling. File photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

 

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has said it is “essential” that the State appeals the EU’s Apple tax ruling and criticised the Government’s “lack of preparation” for the judgment.

Mr Martin was speaking after the State was tasked with recovering €13 billion in back taxes from Apple by the European Commission

Mr Martin told RTÉ Radio that the case is being used as a “Trojan horse” to push through a broader tax agenda and he accused the European Commission of picking on smaller countries.

“We believe an appeal is essential,” he said.

“I think it’s important that the independence of the Revenue Commissioners is upheld and the separation of the Revenue Commissioners and Government and politics is upheld and defended, because that has been called into question by the commission.”

Mr Martin said he was “taken aback” by the Government’s response to Tuesday’s ruling and that it didn’t take the necessary “bells and whistles approach”.

He also accused the commission of targeting smaller member states.

“The idea that one small country is singled out by the commission, in many ways as a Trojan horse to drive through perhaps a wider tax agenda that could damage us, is deeply worrying and unfair in my view.

“It is instructive that so far it has only taken cases against the smaller European countries - Luxembourg, Belgium, Ireland and the Dutch.

“I think it’s inconceivable that they would take such a stance against a larger country, and that’s a worry,” he said.

He criticised the European Commission’s decision to issue a judgment without an accompanying report into the Apple case.

“We haven’t seen the full report of the commission, which I think is very worrying and [it is] unacceptable that the full report has not been published.

“ I think the commission should not have gone ahead with its announcement without being in a position to publish the full report, so we could see the evidential base behind its decision,” he said.

Fianna Fáil’s legacy

Asked if his own party was in any way culpable when in government of creating tax structures which allowed for large-scale tax avoidance by the multinational, Mr Martin said the exponential increase in Apple’s profits had helped to compound its original arrangements in Ireland.

“I suspect that the dramatic transformation of Apple into a multi-billion dollar company . . . was a dramatic outcome of their R&D capacity and their innovation, which put their profits into the stratosphere.

“That probably compounded the situation in terms of the enormous global profits that Apple now make.

“But the idea that the Irish Revenue should be the collector-general for the entire world and the revenues of Apple worldwide I think is a flawed one,” he said.