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Ireland backs appeal against Apple tax ruling

PM Enda Kenny asserted the EU ruling 'could not be allowed to stand', insisting Ireland had 'played by the rules' in its tax treatment of Apple. Photograph: (Getty)

Dublin, Ireland Sep 08, 2016, 02.08 AM (IST)
Ireland's Parliament battled through an ill-tempered debate to vote in favour of appealing a European Commission ruling ordering the country to collect billions of euros in unpaid taxes from tech giant Apple.

Parliament voted 93-36 yesterday to support the appeal against the ruling that Ireland must collect 13 billion euros ($15 billion) from Apple.

The decision followed a heated debate in Dublin during which Prime Minister Enda Kenny asserted the EU ruling "could not be allowed to stand", insisting Ireland had "played by the rules" when it came to its tax treatment of Apple.

The Commission ruled last week that Apple had received favourable tax terms that amounted to state aid -- illegal under its rules.

Ireland's decision to challenge the ruling reflects fears that accepting the windfall could scare away international investment, undermining a reputation for business-friendliness that is a cornerstone of the country's economy.
 
The Commission's ruling against Apple was met with a warning from Washington that the move could damage hugely important transatlantic economic ties.


Kenny has refused to distribute the 150-page European Commission report to lawmakers, citing "commercial sensitivities".

Gerry Adams, leader of the opposition party Sinn Fein, spoke out against the appeal.

"We want companies like Apple in Ireland," he said. "But this doesn't mean one should turn a blind eye to tax evasion or avoidance."

The Commission's ruling against Apple was met with a warning from Washington that the move could damage hugely important transatlantic economic ties.

Ireland's two main parties, Kenny's Fine Gael and the opposition Fianna Fail, which supports the minority government, backed the appeal.

But Sinn Fein, which increased its support in elections earlier this year on an anti-austerity platform, vehemently argued that to do so meant "defending the indefensible".

The party's finance spokesman Pearse Doherty said Apple had operated "a sort of untaxed Bermuda Triangle" facilitated by Ireland.

Opinion polls reflected the divisive nature of the ruling with many people arguing in favour of Apple paying the back taxes.

The government claims Apple has paid the full amount due to the Irish state from 2004 to 2014 and denies it gave it "selective treatment".

The European Commission meanwhile says Apple paid an effective corporate tax rate of just 0.005 per cent on its European profits in 2014 -- equivalent to just 50 euros for every million. 

(AFP)
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