No EU country has claimed on €13bn Apple tax – Noonan

No European country has made a claim on the back taxes that Apple allegedly owes to Ireland, Finance Minister Michael Noonan has said.

Mr Noonan has argued that Ireland’s entitlement to the money, in the face of potentially competing claims from other EU countries, remains uncertain.

The European Commission announced in August last year that Ireland must collect €13bn plus interest from Apple for taxes that were unpaid over a decade as a result of a tax treatment that amounted to illegal State aid to the company.

The Government and Apple have appealed against the decision.

The offer by Europe’s Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager for other states to seek a share of the funds has been controversial, raising the question of how Ireland could be owed tax also owed elsewhere.

But Mr Noonan has revealed that no other country has expressed interest in the money.

“I can say that I have not been given any official indications from any country that they intend to seek further tax for their own country as a result of the commission’s decision,” Mr Noonan said in a response to a parliamentary question from Independent TD Tommy Broughan.

The minister suggested earlier this year that the comments from the commission were a move designed to isolate Ireland within Europe.

He told the Oireachtas finance committee in February that it suited the commission that other countries would come in and “start demanding extra tax”, because that meant that Ireland was left with few friends when other people around the table thought there was a windfall due to them.

He also claimed at the time that Spain and Austria had raised the possibility of seeking some of the Apple tax.

However, Ms Vestager told the committee at the time that the vast bulk of the money would accrue to Ireland.

The money is due to be put into an escrow account, which would be established via a commercial contract with Apple. But the deadline for that was early January and the money has still not been deposited.

A spokesman for the minister said the Government was working with the commission and Apple on the final details of that matter.

“While the formal deadline set out in the decision has now passed, the commission has confirmed that it is satisfied with Ireland’s progress on the issue to date. It is not unusual and not at all uncommon for member states to require more time for recovery,” the spokesman said.

A number of EU countries are reportedly lending support to Ireland in its appeal over the Apple tax ruling.

‘The Irish Times’ reported last month that Luxembourg plans to make an ‘intervention’ in support of the Government in its case against the commission.
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