Could you turn down a €13 billion windfall? Ireland is looking to appeal this EU tax award relating to Apple, equivalent to 5% of its annual GDP with an eye to the long term damage it could do to its core business friendly low tax environment. Jacob Zuma has expressed some surprise at this development saying that in South Africa that could be used to pay the finder’s fee to Vladimir for a nuclear power station or even just a nice surprise for Dudu and the girls. From Investopedia:
The company was accused of receiving unfair tax deals from Ireland which allowed it to keep a large chunk of profits untaxed. Referring to the European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager’s estimation that Apple only paid 0.0005 pc tax in Ireland in 2014, he said, “They just picked a number from I don’t know where. In the year that the Commission says we paid that tax figure, we actually paid $400 million. We believe that makes us the highest taxpayer in Ireland that year.”
There seems to be a conflict of ideas between those who say that Apple in Ireland is merely a Cork postbox (even though I understand Apple is Cork’s largest employer) and those who maintain the tax paid should be massively higher (as though big profits are genuinely generated there). Internationally there has been a failure of governments to put in place adequate tax policies with sanctions against those that don’t toe the line. In the meantime Cook would be failing in his fiduciary duty to shareholders if he did not try to minimise Apple’s tax bill. The EU comes out looking over meddlesome in making an award that is against the interests of both parties (and possibly not backed up by any legislation?). In the end politicians try to make up for their own deficiencies by taking some fictitious moral high ground as though they have done everything they can do and now it’s up to others to do the right thing. It also seems to cut across the OECD’s Base Erosion and Profit Shifting project. For a conflict between politicians and independent finance experts look no further than the German central banker being overridden and deposed on the reunification of E and W Germany. The whole EU story seems to be politicians running ahead of commonsense and what the people really want, if they had not been brainwashed in the meantime to think otherwise. I have been unable to locate an Apple source to verify all of this.