European Commission probes Apple for details of latest tax structure

News comes after leaked documents showed that Apple had chosen to move a subsidiary from Ireland to Jersey in order to continue avoiding billions in taxes

Ben Chapman
Tuesday 07 November 2017 17:52 GMT
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Customers queue for the latest release of Apple's iPhone
Customers queue for the latest release of Apple's iPhone (EPA)

The EU’s competition chief has asked Apple to provide details of its latest tax structure as regulators try to recover €13bn (£11.5bn) in back taxes to Ireland.

The news comes after leaked documents showed that Apple had chosen to move a subsidiary from Ireland to Jersey in order to continue avoiding billions in taxes, after an EU crackdown in 2013.

European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager told reporters she wanted to make sure Apple complies with EU rules. Ms Vestager ruled in August last year that Ireland had granted the company illegal state aid in the form of generous tax benefits which allowed the California-based company to pay almost no tax on much of its global sales. Apple has appealed the decision.

“I have been asking for an update on the arrangement made by Apple, the recent way they have been organised, in order to get the feeling whether or not this is in accordance with our European rules but that remains to be seen,” Ms Vestager told reporters at an international technology summit in Lisbon.

“We are looking into this of course without any kind of prejudice, just to get the information,” she said.

Ms Vestager said she sent her request to Apple before the fresh revelations emerged from the Paradise Papers.

“We have no contact after the Paradise Papers. We are in the process. There is no particular need,” she said.

She said it “remains to be seen” whether or not the European Commission would open more cases after millions of files leaked from the Bermuda-based law firm Appleby exposed the tax affairs of some of the world’s largest companies.

The Commission announced earlier this month that it is taking Ireland to the European Court of Justice, its highest court, over the country’s failure to recover the back taxes that Apple owes.

“We have no indication when it comes to the time perspective of Apple’s recovery. We do have from the Irish government the progress made,” Ms Vestager said.

A spokesperson for Apple said: “The debate over Apple’s taxes is not about how much we owe but where we owe it."

The company added that it paid many different types of tax, including VAT, payroll and property tax.

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