On Monday the European Commission effectively ordered Apple to pay the Irish government roughly £11bn in back taxes. Claiming that the Irish government had offered the company illegal tax incentives. The firm was able to register an office to offset its tax bill, however it has emerged that the registered office has no physical location, no staff and no expenditures, it does not exist.
The deal allowed Apple to pay a maximum tax rate of 1%, that’s 11.5% lower than the tax amount in Ireland. In 2014 Apple paid just 0.005% of its tax, working out at £50 per £1,000,000 profit.
When the announcement was made Apple responded by saying two things;
- We did not benefit from any arrangement that another company could not also benefit.
- The decision would severely impact their investment and employment within Europe
The Irish government responded by saying that they did not create any such arrangements and that they will be appealing the decision.
Now, to me, a number of alarm bills are ringing. First of all the maths works out, Apple have not been paying 12.5% tax, so if the Irish government haven’t established an arrangements, why, at a time of austerity have they not pursued the owed amount?
Then there is what Apple said and to be fair it sounds like bollocks, but what else would you expect from a company that can re-release the same product over and over again?
If there was something in place that allowed this sort of tax bracket for so long, surely every company in Ireland would be taking advantage of it? It’s entirely possible that more will follow but I don’t think any newsagent in Ireland is benefiting from paying 5p on every £500,000 they make.
I laughed out loud when I heard Apple’s threat, that the decision would seriously impact investment and employment in Europe? Ha, don’t make me laugh. For a start, if you can’t operate your multi billion conglomerate honestly, you should leave. If you seriously want to disrupt your loyal customers across Europe, go ahead. If you want to piss off a whole continent of tech users, by all means, there is the door. Do you really think it would take long for Samsung to churn out something shiny to replace you with? I don’t and I use one of your computers. It’s second hand and ten years old mind.
No part of the world should have to deal with this shit, not from Apple, not from Amazon, not from anyone. Which leads me to my next train of thought and that is, why has it taken the European Commission so long to tackle quite blatant tax evasion?
Social media is rife with posts, memes and articles which discuss major companies getting stingy on their tax bills, it’s become almost everyday conversation, so why nothing until now?
On one hand maybe they wanted to target one of the big boys to set a good precedent, on the other hand I can’t help but think that this might be the EU as whole trying to swing public opinion at least in the UK by actually doing something productive and going after a cheating, depriving corporate entity like Apple.
The most suspicious aspect of this is that the Irish government want to work alongside Google to appeal the decision. Hold your horses Ireland, what are you doing? You are broke, you have stringent austerity measures in place and everyone is miserable, the EU is telling you that you’re in for £11bn and you want to reconsider?
Could it be that they are worried that their actual illegal tax arrangements with Apple might get discovered? If that were the case would the Irish government as a member state be fined for such crimes? Would the fine be less than or more than £11 bn? Where would it go? To the EU?
‘But hang on Duke, aren’t you Pro EU? Isn’t this all a bit conspiracy like for someone Pro EU?’ I hear you say (or imagine). Yes, you have a point but I have always argued that we should have remained in order to push for reform. The reason reform wasn’t happening is because we haven’t had a government with a spine for quite some time. There are enormous benefits to us remaining a member state especially if it means that corporations are getting their just desserts. But perfect the system is not and there is small part of me that believes that the EU Commission would make such a ruling if only to fine the Irish government for the purpose of claiming the monies as their own.
But I don’t think it’s very likely at all. I think Apple need to accept that they have been sneaky little bastards and so should the Irish government. The company has an elected board and the country has an elected government and both have to answer to people.
The EU Commission was only authorised to go back through the records as far as 2003 so there could theoretically be more due from years before, though that’ll never be known. The other issue is that the EU Commission has said that it is up to the Irish government to obtain the amount owed. That’s very unlikely to happen given that the Irish government does not agree to the decision and they probably don’t posses the required efforts to secure the money.
If they do and Apple leaves Ireland, fuck it, they’ll have £11bn to play with! They can at least have a fun year before the administration comfortably retires from their (equally as corrupt as Apple) roles.
I would like to see the appeal fail and I would like to see more corporations pursued. For too long corporations have got away with everything they have wanted. Capitalism does not work, we know this. So why reward it? Why keep making everyone miserable for the sake of the few? And at the end of the day it’s just phones and gadgets, you may love your I-phone now but in a few months it’ll be rotting in drawer as you purchase (and pay tax on) a device from a firm who doesn’t give a fuck about you, your country or the law.