Ireland’s coalition government, led by Enda Kenny, is set to appeal against Tuesday’s decision by the European Union to fine Apple €13 billion ($14.5 billion) plus interest for breaking anti-trust rules. Apple already said it will appeal against the ruling.
E.U. competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager said Tuesday that deals between Apple and the Irish tax authorities in 1991 and 2007 contravened E.U. rules on state aid, which outlaw preferential treatment for individual companies. The deals enabled Apple to channel European sales through Ireland and benefit from an ultra-low tax bill — sliding from 1% of its European profits in 2003 to 0.005% in 2014. The E.U. said Apple will have to pay back the money they pocketed from those arrangements, with the Irish government ordered to recover the unpaid taxes, plus interest.
The Irish government on Friday recommended an appeal against the E.U. ruling but said it would summon lawmakers to parliament on Wednesday to debate the issue. Ireland’s Finance Minister Michael Noonan said: “The government has decided unanimously to bring an appeal before the European courts to challenge the European Commission’s decision on the Apple state-aid case.”
He added: “I believe that there are some very important principles at stake in this case and that a robust legal challenge before the courts is essential to defend Ireland’s interests. The full amount of tax was paid in this case and no state aid was provided. Ireland did not give favorable tax treatment to Apple.”
However, some Irish politicians opposed the government’s position and favored keeping the extra taxation it would receive. Mary Lou McDonald, deputy leader of the opposition Sinn Fein party, said: “It’s an agenda that has nothing to do with standing by the people of Ireland. What it demonstrates is an absolute disregard and disdain for citizens, fair play and tax justice.”
The Irish government felt compelled to appeal against the decision as it may set a precedent and threaten its low-tax deals with other multinationals.