Is Apple Ireland's sweetheart? EC confirms investigation (updated)

By Chris Middleton
12 Jun 2014 View Comments
Apple chief executive Tim Cook

The European Commission's competition policy watchdog has confirmed that it is investigating any corporate tax deals that the Irish government has cut with Apple.

The Commission is examining relationships between several multinationals and governments in Ireland, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, to see if deals struck over jobs, inward investment and/or taxable profits constitute state aid – so-called 'sweetheart' deals. 

Other firms being investigated include Fiat and Starbucks, which the EC has taken the unusual step of naming alongside Apple.

"In the current context of tight public budgets, it is particularly important that large multinationals pay their fair share of taxes," said Commission Vice President Joaquín Almunia, as previously reported in Computing.

Apple said yesterday that it has not received any selective or preferential tax treatment from Ireland – a position echoed by the Irish government.

Apple employs roughly 4,000 people in Cork, making it one of Ireland's largest employers. In 2011, it made roughly two-thirds of its global profits through the subsidiary.

In recent years several multinationals, including Google, have come under scrutiny for passing billions of dollars through low-tax regimes, via networks of subsidiaries and IP licensing terms.

Last year it emerged in the US that Apple paid taxes of just two per cent on its foreign earnings, and one per cent through its Irish companies.

Other Apple bites

• Apple used its developers conference last week to trail greater integration between iOS and Mac devices and the cloud in the forthcoming releases of iOS 8 and Mac OS X Yosemite, together with closer family resemblance between the platforms. Users will be able to edit the same document across multiple devices that are in close proximity to each other.

• Images purporting to be of iPhone 6 or the rumoured iPhone Air have been leaked online, showing a larger screen and thinner casing.

• Touchcreen chipmaker Synaptics has acquired Renesas SP Drivers Inc, supplier of display driver chips for the iPhone. 

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