Apple cash move will not end EU tax probe

“The European Union’s competition commissioner has said that its probe into Apple’s tax deals with Ireland would continue even if the company moved some of its $200bn overseas cash pile back to the US,” Barney Jopson and Tim Bradshaw report for The Financial Times.

“Apple’s stated intention to repatriate a substantial portion of its overseas cash could prove crucial as it tries to fend off the EU’s long-running investigation into its alleged sweetheart tax deals with the Irish government.,” Jopson and Bradshaw report. “Support has been growing in Washington for proposals to overhaul the taxation of American companies’ overseas profits, with presidential candidates including Donald Trump advocating a one-off mandatory levy at a reduced rate to encourage executives to bring the money home.”

“However, on a visit to Washington last week, Margrethe Vestager, the EU competition commissioner overseeing a probe into Apple’s Irish tax arrangements, said that moving its offshore cash around now would change nothing,” Jopson and Bradshaw report. “‘Whether or not Apple wants to repatriate part of their unrepatriated profits is purely up to Apple and is of no concern [to] our case work,’ she told reporters.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Should the EU get their grubby hands on any portion of Apple’s hard-earned money, we’re sure they’ll spend it oh so wisely.

Once again, Apple simply followed the law when paying their taxes:

There was no special deal that we cut with Ireland. We simply followed the laws in the country over the 35 years that we have been in Ireland. If the question is, was there ever a ‘quid pro quo’ that we were trying to strike with the Irish government – that was never the case. We’ve always been very transparent with the Irish government that we wanted to be a good corporate citizen… If countries change the tax laws, we will abide by the new laws and we will pay taxes according to those laws. – Apple CFO Luca Maestri

Analyst: Apple investors unconcerned about potential EU tax bill – April 5, 2016
EU’s Vestager says will not complete tax inquiries of Apple, others in second quarter – May 5, 2015
U.S. demands EU reconsider tax probes of its companies – February 12, 2016
U.S. Treasury official to meet EU antitrust team over Apple tax deals – January 29, 2016
Apple and Google stand by Europe tax deals; Rupert Murdoch weighs in – January 27, 2016
Apple could trigger global tax war, potential breakdown of the international tax system – January 27, 2016
Apple CEO Cook lobbies EU antitrust chief over Irish back taxes – January 21, 2016
Think Ireland’s corporate tax is unfair? Wave goodbye to Apple and thousands of jobs if it’s changed – November 14, 2015
Apple announces 1,000 new jobs in Ireland as EU tax ruling nears – November 11, 2015
Apple tax probe won’t hurt Ireland, Finance Minister Noonan says – October 5, 2015
EU’s Vestager says will not complete tax inquiries of Apple, others in second quarter – May 5, 2015
Apple warns of potential ‘material’ financial damage from European tax probe – April 29, 2015
Apple may have to pay Ireland 10 years of back taxes – April 30, 2015
EU’s plans to tackle corporate tax avoidance hits first roadblocks — February 12, 2015
Ireland’s Prime Minister: Apple has nothing to fear from end of ‘Double Irish’ tax avoidance strategy – November 4, 2014


  1. There is no avarice and greed that matches that of governments that sees citizens and corporations as serfs for the state. It is ironic that Apple has cozied up to these same progressive governments only to find that they are not immune. Too bad Apple, better find better quality friends.

  2. “moving its offshore cash around now would change nothing”
    Stating the obvious. Did the FT reporter ask a stupid question or did Vestager make this statement, unprompted?

  3. MDN’s “take” completely misses the point. I’m sure Apple complied with Ireland’s tax laws. But did Ireland’s tax laws comply with EU laws? If not, do EU laws prempt the member nations’ laws? If so, Apple has a problem and it’s hard to see how it will get out of having to repay the taxes it should have paid.

    1. Uncommon Sense,
      You of course hit this on the head, but that does not matter. As you will have seen, most of the posters here are Americans who know nothing about Europe and who are convinced that government is inherently evil. Of course they think that Ireland should be able to ignore their EU treaty obligations, since they think that US states should be able to ignore the federal constitution. Despite being corrected repeatedly, they continue to insist that the billions of euros in unpaid taxes would somehow go to finance EU waste, rather than to the Irish government that clearly does not want it. I agree with Apple’s position on this, but the company’s supporters here are making arguments that are frankly nonsensical.

      1. The US Constitution actually gives more power to the states than the federal government. If not for the basic blackmail scheme of “allocating” federally paid taxes to the states under the guise of “helping” and the states being too chicken to just say no, things could be quite different.

      2. There is a grain of truth in what you posted, but you corrupted it by falling into the trap of lumping a large number of people into your generalization. Relatively few Americans truly believe that government is inherently evil, although that group does appear to be rather generously represented on this particular forum. It is fair to say that Americans are not generally well-informed about Europe, in general, and the structure of the EU, specifically.

        What I find interesting is that Ireland’s failure to comply with EU rules might flow back to corporations retroactively. This is a long term issue – decades in the making, and there has to be a statute of limitations on how far back the EU can go to correct a perceived inequity. I would like to hear more about the mechanics of the process and hear less about the gut responses from various people.

        As far as taxation goes, I have always been willing to pay my fair share to support the operations of the governments – federal, state, and local – with the understanding that those governments will do their best to spend the money wisely. I do not see taxation as “theft” as some people on this forum classify it. Taxation is necessary to fund the public services, and tax revenue should be structured to cover those services. The fact that the U.S. has run annual deficits for decades is shameful – both political parties are responsible and we should hold all elected officials accountable for wise stewardship of our resources.

        We need to collect taxes sufficient to cover expenses, and should do so in a practical and efficient manner. If we simplify the tax code and quit adding social engineering rules and special breaks for businesses, then we would all be better off. They could get rid of corporate taxes entirely and flat tax individuals if it were up to me. But wages would have to increase to cover the tax liability transferred from other sources. It could be implemented as a VAT…that would be fine with me. Just quit jacking around and do it. I get so tired of all of the increasing number of fees and tolls and everything else that complicates things because no politician can utter the words “tax increase.”

  4. The more the EU officials open their mouth on this issue, the plainer it becomes that all they want is the $MONEY$. This isn’t about Irish tax law and Apple at all. They’re just the current target of the EU government’s avarice.

    Darn! And I wanted to move there after the FAIL that’s going to be the next US presidential election! Oh well. Hi Canada! 😉

    1. What’s absurd in all this is of course that the EU should appreciate the $200 billion being within the EU, where it is being invested, as opposed to the USA, where it is NOT being invested or doing anything else for that matter.

      Apparently, the full concept and complexity of economics is too much for the tiny minds of BOTH the US government AND the EU government. All they can comprehend is taxing. Sad little minds wreaking sad big messes in their respective countries of governing. 😛

      1. The “investment” of Apple’s overseas capital does not necessary benefit Ireland or the EU very much. It all depends on how that capital is invested – does it increase liquidity in the lending markets to fuel business growth, for instance?

        This is the same issue as the “trickle down” Reaganomics problem from the 1980s. When wealthy people retain more money, that capital does not necessarily benefit the economy or the lower socioeconomic classes very much. Retained capital that is invested in stocks and bonds does very little for job growth. The stock market may get a boost, but that benefits the wealthy investors more than anyone else. Jobs are created when businesses issue new stock to fund growth, or borrow for capital expenditures, etc. Someone could purchase 1,000,000 shares of AAPL right now and it would do nothing for Apple unless the company planned to use stock to fund an acquisition. Then the higher stock price would help.

        1. Excellent point Mel.

          Jobs are created when businesses issue new stock to fund growth, or borrow for capital expenditures, etc.

          I still get caught thinking of ‘investment’ as putting money in a bank where it is then lent out to entrepreneurs, people hiring workers to fix up their house, etc. But that need not be the case.

  5. MDN gets it wrong again!

    If the EU orders Apple to pay additional taxes, they will be paid to the Republic of Ireland… which does not want the money. They are perfectly satisfied with the boost to their national economy that Apple has already given them, and will give them in the future. So, it does not matter one farthing how they spend the money they do not want. To suggest that Ireland is somehow participating in a tawdry plot to steal Apples hard-earned money is not just incorrect, but very nearly libelous.

    The only moneys that could go to the EU are fines, which they are unlikely to even seek, since it would require proving that Apple was knowingly evading taxes, rather than simply following the directions of the Irish tax officials and paying every dime they were asked to. So, to suggest that the motive of anybody in this is simple greed and rapacity is flatly incorrect.

    The issue is whether Ireland had the authority to enter into its tax arrangement with Apple. That is a matter of internal European policy that has nothing to do with the money-grubbing bureaucrats that anti-government ideologues see behind every tree.

  6. American readers are likely poorly informed on this issue, as they are on most issues. The broader issue here, as revealed in some detail in the Panama papers leaked this past week, is that corporations go to great lengths to avoid tax. Apple is one of those corporations, paying little or no tax in many countries in which it does business, by transferring lability to low tax countries.

    The world is increasingly moving to rein in this behaviour and the EU’s focus on Apple is just part of a wider review in many countries of the tricks used by multinational corporations to avoid tax.

    Despite millions of dollars of sales in Australia, Apple pays no tax here. This is true also for other US corporations and the Australian government is under significant public pressure to address this issue.

    The bottom line is that if you want to operate in our countries then you must make a contribution as ever other corporation does. The EU is saying to Apple, pay your dues or close your doors. It would be a mistake to think they don’t mean it.

    Ireland may have fiddled the books to obtain a greater share of investment by offering a lower tax regime, just as some US states do. But Apple use a lot of tricky tax manoeuvres, as do Google and others, to transfer profits around the world. Apple knew what they were doing.

    1. Fair enough, but did Apple violate any Australian tax laws? If not, then they are just being “tricky” in taking advantage of the loopholes available to an international corporation. The answer is for the countries of this world to meet and discuss the issue of taxation and develop a process that is more simple and fair than the current hodgepodge of laws.

      If the Australian government wants taxes from Apple and Apple is retaining those taxes, then perhaps the Australian government ought to invest in AAPL to gain an ownership stake in those retained earnings!

    2. “Despite millions of dollars of sales in Australia, Apple pays no tax here.”
      Sales is not profits. You don’t pay income taxes on sales. You pay sales taxes on sales, or VAT on sales. Income taxes are on profits. The question is Apple’s transfer pricing. Is the transfer pricing an attempt to shift profits to Ireland, or are the prices fair. That’s the question Apple faces.

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