Ireland: EU refuses to rule out further Irish tax inquiries
09 October 2014
Posted by: Author: Suzanne Lynch
Author: Suzanne Lynch (The Irish Times)
Outgoing EU competition commissioner Joaquín Almunia said he "could not exclude” that new investigations against Ireland will be opened in the future
Outgoing EU competition commissioner Joaquín Almunia refused to rule out further EU investigations into tax deals offered by Ireland to multinational companies yesterday as he defended the right of the European Commission to investigate tax arrangements of member states.
The commission is continuing an information-gathering exercise with the Irish authorities and other countries over a number of tax deals, though no further formal investigations into Ireland have yet opened.
Speaking in Brussels yesterday as he unveiled a fresh investigation into a 2003 tax ruling offered by Luxembourg to Amazon, Mr Almunia said he "could not exclude” that new investigations against Ireland will be opened in the future, though he noted this would fall under the remit of his successor, former Danish finance minister Margrethe Vestager.
Ms Vestager will become the EU’s next competition commissioner on November 1st, pending official confirmation by the European Parliament.
Asked about the Apple investigation during her confirmation hearing at the European Parliament last week, Ms Vestager said that she planned to continue the work of Mr Almunia. "I think this is a very, very serious issue, because the majority of companies in Europe pay their corporate tax, and they have to look at large companies which have the ability to arrange for themselves, special arrangements.”
She continued: "I am going to continue the work that Almunia started in order to throw light on some of these arrangements if possible. I fully respect that tax issues requires unanimity. This is not a way of putting tax policy through the back door but, if it amounts to state aid, directly or indirectly, it is an issue for the competition portfolio. Therefore I think it is very important to keep investigating exactly what goes on.”
Ireland and Apple are expected to contest strongly the case being taken by the European Commission’s state aid division into two specific tax rulings offered by the government to the American multinational.
The investigations into Apple, Fiat, Amazon and Starbucks are by far the biggest set of investigations involving the tax practices of member states.
This article first appeared on irishtimes.com.