Apple’s EU tax nemesis Margrethe Vestager takes aim at other U.S. companies’ offshore profits

“The European Union official who slapped Apple with a $14.5 billion back tax bill signaled over the weekend she’s not done yet with American companies that park profits offshore to lower their tax bills,” John W. Schoen reports for CNBC. “Those profits swelled to some $2.4 trillion — or about 14 percent of U.S. gross domestic product, according to new estimates released Monday.”

“The EU’s antitrust commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, was in Washington on Monday to meet with U.S. officials, including Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, who has been bluntly critical of a series of EU investigations into taxes paid by American companies on profits held outside the U.S.,” Schoen reports. “Both Apple and the Irish government are appealing a ruling last month that the tech giant owes the Irish Treasury $14.5 billion, based on a government tax break that the EU ruling said qualified as ‘state aid.'”

“U.S. Treasury officials have also blasted the ruling, saying it sets up the EU as ‘”supranational tax authority.’ The bloc’s efforts also threaten to cut into the Treasury’s revenue collections because taxes paid to a foreign country can be deducted from a company’s U.S. tax bill,” Schoen reports. “The move has also drawn fire from U.S. corporate groups, including the Business Roundtable, which represents 185 CEOs of large companies with combined revenues of $7 trillion. On Friday, the group sent a letter to the leaders of all 28 EU member countries, urging them to work to overturn the Apple ruling and end the tax probes.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: The EU’s antitrust commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, is a fool.

If you play with fire (ask those who settled for a Samsung phone instead of a real iPhone), you’ll get burned.

Anyone who decides to set up a business in a European Union member country today is insane.MacDailyNews, August 30, 2016

There’s nothing like the world’s preeminent superpower playing hardball with some quasi-governmental political confederation that’s already been hit with one very significant defection and the existential threat of widespread desertions hanging over its collective head. — MacDailyNews, August 25, 2016

The ‘Brexit-Apple’ connection: What in the world was Margrethe Vestager thinking? – September 12, 2016
EU ministers line up to take tax bites out of Apple – September 12, 2016
Former EU competition commissioner: Vestager claim that Apple owes back taxes an incorrect use of EU law – September 2, 2016
Irish government to fight EU on Apple tax – September 2, 2016
Treasury accuses EU of trying to steal U.S. tax revenues with Apple decision – September 1, 2016
Irish residents opposed to EU’s tax demand of Apple – September 1, 2016
Apple Inc. pushes back against EU tax grab – September 1, 2016
Apple may repatriate billions of dollars next year after new U.S. President takes office – September 1, 2016
U.S. tax code allows for dramatic retaliation against EU overreach in Apple case – September 1, 2016
Apple CEO Tim Cook on EU tax demand: ‘No one did anything wrong here and Ireland is being picked on… It is total political crap’ – September 1, 2016
U.S. Treasury: The European Commission’s retroactive tax demands on Apple are unfair – August 30, 2016
EU demands Apple pay massive $14.5 billion in taxes plus interest – August 30, 2016
U.S. government warns EU: Do not hit Apple with a massive back tax bill – or else – August 25, 2016


    1. The EU is trying to destroy itself by living beyond its means and micro-managing ever aspect of business and life there. What she is doing is finding anyone with money to pay for the clean up. She has the support of most EU member states so she is very comfortable driving this agenda.

      But in the end she will learn by making the EU a bad place to do business, that 100% of zero will always be zero.

      1. Oh, Sweet Botty. Haven’t you picked up the hint, yet?
        Nobody here likes you, and could care less what you have to say. You’re like “The Thing That Wouldn’t Leave™”.

        I like you though… Know what I mean? xoxoxox ❤️

        Maybe Fisty and Steev Jerk can join us for some real fun.

      1. Interesting juxtaposition: I just counted two pages of comment numbers for MDN. The only way they can get above 30 (but the moving average is hovering around 15) is to link a political article. It appears that MDN has been killing itself off with the right-wing diatribes. This is the first post I’ve made in 2 months. It’s likely the last. Botty and ilk went from amusing to pitiful.

    1. What Margrethe Vestager, and apparently you, want to ignore is that wealth generating entities known as Corporations bring other social and monetary benefits to a community, state, country beyond the the tax THEY pay to that region. This is one more unfortunate example of a left leaning bureaucrat doing their best to throw out the baby with the bathwater.

      You want to change the tax rules by which Corps play? Fine. Give everyone a heads-up and let each of the teams decide if they want to continue playing in your ballpark. This retroactive tax claim is no more than an anti-capitalism money grab.

        1. Hillary’s statement is completely in line with the liberal mantra of government is utopia, and that there is no such thing as personal responsibility nor personal success.

          “If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. IF YOU’VE GOT A BUSINESS — YOU DIDN’T BUILD THAT. SOMEBODY ELSE MADE THAT HAPPEN. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.”

          — Barack Obama, 13 July 2012 in Roanoke, Virginia

          1. Breitbart is reporting that George Bush I is voting for Hillary Clinton. Man, I loathe that bästard. Which proves again what I’ve always posted here: it’s not about democrat vs republican or even liberal vs conservative, it is globalism vs American sovereignty. It is George Soros vs Thomas Jefferson

            1. I’m sorry, botty, but your canned response CD skipped a track. Are you actually saying that I am a “fascist” because I praised George H. W. Bush? If you had been of voting age in 1988, then you would undoubtedly have voted for him and touted his conservative virtues. Now that he “betrayed” you, the argument becomes globalism over sovereignty?

              You would be mildly entertaining, if you were not so irritating.

        2. Let me get this straight…guns don’t kill people, but corporations create jobs? I could spend a long time explaining the contradictory nature of that illogic, but I have to go to work. Suffice it to say that people kill people with guns, and people create jobs through a range of entities including corporations. But the mere existence of corporations does not mean that jobs are created, or even maintained.

            1. I do believe your perception is the correct one—as it was with Brexit; the peoples of the world are troubled about globalism and the attendant loss of sovereignty. This is the same existential problem that plagued the world for three hundred years under the name of colonialism; it has merely been renamed. The details are unimportant; what is essential is peoples’ right of self-determination. When one thinks of any form of bureaucracy, one should be mindful of the Ministry of Truth, and all that it implies.

      1. You’re mostly full of shit. Corporations are the last entity to bring any kind of benefit to societies. The biggest tax avoiders produce the fewest jobs.

        1. “Corporations are the last entity to bring any kind of benefit to societies.”

          Are you adhering to the strictest definition of a “corporation” as a legal entity, or are you claiming that big business, or businesses in general provide no benefits to society. I’d like to know if you have a real point or if I should simply discount your comment altogether. The comments of those who come with throw-away handles and begin their comments with “You’re mostly full of shit,” typically don’t merit much consideration.

      2. Actually, this case is not about changing tax rules. It’s about applying the same Irish tax rules to Apple as to all other companies in Ireland, without any special treatment. Ireland is, by their own free will, a member of the European Union and has signed up to these rules.

        1. Whatever rules Ireland was supposed to abide by in their EU agreements then that makes them the guilty party of any infraction. They should never have agreed to something that conflicted with another agreement. But it’s an agreement they obviously don’t agree with or have a different view on. On appeal we shall see if this sticks or the EU is given the boot and Margrethe tossed out by the scruff of her neck.

  1. I decided to have a peak at what the media was saying on the other side of the bias, especially considering MDN’s insightful takes. I came across an article in Politico entitled “How Vestager took a bite out of Apple”

    She’s got quite the reputation and from the article there are those that “viewed Vestager’s work as so “watertight, “bulletproof” or “by-the-book” that they didn’t need to know the details.”

    I really liked this comment from the article: “Indeed, Vestager’s case against Apple might never have been launched if not for a hearing that took place in the United States.” during which “In sworn testimony, Apple executives described an opaque — and in the eyes of officials on the task force back in Brussels, highly suspicious — arrangement of fiscal practices. Apple’s tax chief Philip Bullock said that the company did not “have a tax residence.” Its CEO Tim Cook said he didn’t know the “legal definition” of where Apple’s subsidiaries were managed and controlled, though it booked many of its profits in Ireland.”

    John McCain’s comment ““Most reasonable people would agree” that Ireland was a tax haven for Apple all raised eyebrows” to the point where “For officials in the Commission, it was as if Apple had been handed to them on a plate.”

    I find that an interesting tidbit, the whole idea of going after Apple was a result of the home country going after Apple. It’s full of irony, really full of irony “Apple “would have gotten away with it if it hadn’t been for those Senate hearings,” said one Commission competition official.”

    The article is really interesting in fact here are a few other tidbits “CEO Tim Cook did not plead the company’s case with Brussels until January 2016, two-and-a-half years after the probe was launched. When he did, his arguments missed their mark.” and

    “Vestager was well into the second half of her investigation, and she was unlikely to be swayed by the platitudes and buzzwords Cook came prepared to deliver. Nor did Cook advance his cause when he spent a one-on-one meeting interrupting and talking over her, according to those briefed on the encounter.”

    Interrupting and talking over, now that’s something that’s fairly typical from my dealings with people from that country and yes, it’s not impressive and it doesn’t advance the cause.

    There is a lot more in the article and while I am still on Apple’s side of the issue, one thing I’m starting to glean from reading about Margrethe Vestager is that she is no fool.

    I said at the start of this issue that it’s going to get real ugly and so far that looks to be the case.

    1. What amazes me most in what you quoted from your research is the total lack of legal basis for anything being said. It’s all emotion, bias, opinion, intention. What’s that good for in the name of justice?

      We all know emotion… sadly has a lot to do with burying justice. Mr. Cook’s demeanor at the Senate hearing was extraordinary, considering the utter stupidity being slung at him by the likes of McCain and Rove. I hope what you read about his demeanor during his ‘one-on-one’ with Vestager is wrong. I wouldn’t like to think of him falling for the emotional factors with justice at stake.

      1. Thanks for the feedback Derek.

        I agree with most of what you said, it seems to be an emotional pushing of buttons at this point with no factual juice. This idea of “retroactive changes” that has come up, what laws are they referring to? Is the EU commission really making retroactive changes to the law or discovering that Ireland hasn’t been following the law? It’s just not clear. Oh to find some good journalism.

        I suggest you check out the article (I’m reluctant to post links at MDN for technical reasons, I had a nice follow up to your Tesla photos that got whooshed away) it’s a good read.

        There is one quote that I had issue with when I made the post, I was kinda worried about taking it out of context but I’ll elaborate here:

        “commissioners and chiefs of staff interviewed by POLITICO say they viewed Vestager’s work as so “watertight, “bulletproof” or “by-the-book” that they didn’t need to know the details.”

        That’s a pretty double sided statement. It could mean that the commissioners and chiefs of staff are to lazy to go over it, or they do really trust her work and maybe she did dot the i’s and cross the t’s.

        I’m going to toss a monkey wrench into your emotional concept here, not that I’m disagreeing with you but I’ve found an idea that works for me. A lot of people drown in a sea of emotions, that burying of justice. Some learn to swim in it, go with the flow. If Apple is right, I hope they are they can leave with their head high, knowing they did the right and legal thing. If not well pay up and move on. I should be that simple but certainly this issue has brought up a lot of emotion that will muddle the situation. I just hope balanced minds prevail over the appeal process though regardless of the process there are going to be a lot of people who will be emotional about it, one way or another.

        Always a pleasure sir.

  2. The Irish tax haven has existed for decades, well before the EU existed. Many companies took advantage of it by simply routing high profit goods thru their Irish entities where they took a “slice” of profit – taxed at low rates – before routing the goods onward to local selling markets. Companies that sold high-value products that were relatively easily routed thru Ireland were well suited to take advantage. Big Pharma has been doing it for decades. Think bulk pharmaceutical chemicals, bulk finished goods, etc. Sometimes goods could pass thru Ireland in different stages of production so multiple markups in Eire could be taken. Any high-value IP, like patent rights, would work too, since patent owners are entitled to the “entrepreneur’s residual” of profit after other costs are deducted. So another trick was for, say, a US company to simply assign its patent rights to its entity in Ireland. Then just wait for a (periodic) US tax holiday. Easy-peasy. The strategy worked for Ireland – they got many US companies to make local investments. But the strategy, which is best characterized as “beggar your neighbor”, only works until your neighbor’s realize they are getting screwed. The EU could have a field day on this issue if they sincerely wanted to dig deep over the past decades. (In the US, a sharp DA might pull out the RICO “Racketeering-Influenced Corrupt Organizations” rules and threaten some insiders – CEOs or tax attorneys – w prison time to expose the whole racket.

  3. I don’t know about other company’s taxes. But I’d vouch for Apple any time.

    Then there’s this simple, blatant sentence that tells us everything about the EU’s intrusion into individual country’s sovereignty. *shaking*head*

    Both Apple and the Irish government are appealing a ruling last month that the tech giant owes the Irish Treasury $14.5 billion

    That says it all.

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