Irish Cabinet Delays Decision on Apple Tax Appeal

تم نشره في Wed 31 August / Aug 2016. 12:00 AM
  • Apple Quarters

DUBLIN — Ireland's cabinet could not agree on Wednesday whether to fight a European Commission ruling against Dublin's tax dealings with Apple, raising questions over any appeal and the government's stability.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan has insisted Dublin would appeal any adverse ruling ever since the EU investigation began in 2014. But after over five hours of discussion, the cabinet adjourned until Friday when the government said a decision would be made.

Dublin has just over two months at the latest to make an appeal against the Commission's ruling that the US tech giant should hand over to Ireland unpaid taxes of up to 13 billion euros (USD14.5 billion) ruled to be illegal state aid.

Some Irish voters are astounded that the government might turn down a tax windfall that would be enough to fund the country's health service for a year, and this appears to be complicating the cabinet decision whether to fight the ruling.

"Following the discussion, it was agreed to allow further time to reflect on the issues and to clarify a number of legal and technical issues with the Attorney General's Office and with officials," the government press office said in a statement.

Apple, one of many major multinationals whose European headquarters are based in Ireland, has said it will appeal the decision and a failure by the Irish government to join them could undermine the country's pro-business credentials.

Noonan said on Tuesday he "disagreed profoundly" with what he called a bizarre order from the Commission.

However, the Independent Alliance - a group of independent lawmakers represented in the minority coalition government - said on Tuesday that they were reviewing the EU's decision and would need to consult further with Noonan, tax officials and independent experts.

If the Independent Alliance refused to back an appeal and pulled out of the government, Prime Minister Enda Kenny's Fine Gael party would no longer have sufficient support in parliament to pass legislation. That would prompt the collapse of the government, analysts said.

"The government can't survive without the Independent Alliance," said Eoin O'Malley, politics lecturer at Dublin City University.

"(But) the way the Independent Alliance appear to work is that they have cabinet (discussions) first and then discuss it with each other. I would be more concerned if in a week's time the cabinet hadn't agreed."