Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 30th Aug 2016 17:00 UTC

The European Commission has concluded that Ireland granted undue tax benefits of up to €13 billion to Apple. This is illegal under EU state aid rules, because it allowed Apple to pay substantially less tax than other businesses. Ireland must now recover the illegal aid.

That sound you hear? That's the sound of a house of cards tumbling down.

There's quite a lot of misinformation on the web about this whole thing. First and foremost, the crux of the matter here is that it's the EU's job to protect the internal market, and to ensure that there's a level playing field between its various member states, and it does this through a number of regulations, laws, and codes that member states must adhere to. Whether you, personally, agree with this goal or not is irrelevant; Ireland is part of the EU single market and signed the dotted line - and this comes with the responsibility of implementing, adhering to, and upholding said regulations, laws, and codes.

Second, the EU claims that the special deals the Irish government gave to Apple are a form of illegal state aid; something many other companies have been fined and punished for as well. It's just that with a company the size of Apple, and the extensiveness of the tax-lowering deal Ireland gave to Apple, the illegal state aid easily reaches monstrous proportions.

Third, this isn't some EU manhunt or vendetta specifically targeting American companies; European companies have been fined time and time again for shady practices as well. And, just to be pedantic - technically speaking, Apple itself (the American company) isn't paying these taxes; various European shell companies owned and created by Apple are.

Fourth, there's a distinct and clear public opinion in Europe - and in the US as well, see e.g. the rise and popularity of Bernie Sanders - that seemingly, laws do not seem to apply to the extremely rich and wealthy. The EU and various member state governments - including my own - are starting to adapt to public opinion, taking concrete steps to end these shady tax deals and tax avoidance schemes that allow large, wealthy companies to pay effectively little to no taxes, while us 'normal' people and small business owners pay our fair share.

The main sticking point here is that the EU wants to makes sure that merely being rich and large should not give a company undue benefits that competitors simply cannot compete against. Proper capitalism only works when there's a level playing field where competition is based on merit, and not on who can dangle the biggest sack of money in front of the Irish or Dutch governments.

Apple, in response, published a deeply American (i.e., overtly sappy tugging-at-the-heartstrings nonsense) and cringe-inducing open letter to European consumers, and, of course, the ruling will be appealed. I can't wait until Apple is brought to its knees and forced to pay the taxes it owes for participating in the EU single market and the use of our infrastructure.

Google, Amazon, Starbucks, and everyone else, wherever from - you're next.

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Too much a complex issue...
by dionicio on Tue 30th Aug 2016 17:36 UTC
Member since:

...for an individual to get a consolidated view of it. But understanding that international taxes should be holistically approached [and finally paid].

Best hopes for all conflicting parts [including Populations with interests at stake].

Reply Score: 1

RE: Too much a complex issue...
by dionicio on Tue 30th Aug 2016 19:04 in reply to "Too much a complex issue..."
dionicio Member since:

"...It is effectively proposing to replace Irish tax laws with a view of what the Commission thinks the law should have been."

Obvious here that Apple [or Anyone else] can't be retro-actively taxed.

"...This would strike a devastating blow to the sovereignty of EU member states over their own tax matters..."

Also that economic 'bricks' can't simply reclaim absolute tax sovereignty.

"...A company’s profits should be taxed in the country where the value is created."

And what about the Countries where the expenses are generated? What about the Countries where local competitive or alternative industries are collapsed?

Reply Parent Score: 2

l3v1 Member since:

Obvious here that Apple [or Anyone else] can't be retro-actively taxed.

Firstly, I'd say nothing is obvious here. Secondly, as I see this issue - and it happened before, Apple is not the first company with this issue, and Ireland is not the first EU member state with this issue either -, if a EU state goes into such special deals, which can - and have been - found to be illegal state aids, then either the sate, or the company, or both will eventually be punished/fined/etc. And I think it is good so. No member state and no company is above the laws and regulations these states have accepted to adhere to. I don't really see this as retroactive taxation, more a forced payment of unpaid taxes. It's no excuse really that they followed the rules of a special deal, since that special deal was found to be unlawful, and when they made it, they probably thought about it - they just probably thought they can get more profit out of it than the fines they'll have to pay eventually.

Another thing, some US companies and the US government sometimes seem to think the EU is only there to serve them and follow their lead. Just think of how the current TTIP negotiations are going, especially the stance of the US on several major issues (I won't go into this here).

There are huge benefits for a US company in their presence in the EU, and there would be huge benefits for a successful TTIP as well - however, only if the US in general starts treating the EU as a normal partner, not an ignorant idiot easy to push around (even if they sometimes seem to behave so).

Reply Parent Score: 10

Vanders Member since:

Obvious here that Apple [or Anyone else] can't be retro-actively taxed.

People get re-assessed for previous tax years all the time.

Edited 2016-08-31 07:32 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 7