Republic of Ireland news

Apple tax ruling reaction 'paints unfair caricature of Ireland' - Noonan

The Republic's finance minister Michael Noonan
Ed Carty, PA

CRITICS of the Republic's tax regime in the wake of Europe ordering Apple to pay €13 billion (£11 billion) in back taxes are drawing outdated and unfair caricatures, the south's Finance Minister has said.

As the Dail parliament in Dublin was recalled early to debate the controversial ruling, Michael Noonan reiterated the Government's position that no sweetheart deal had been done with the iPhone maker.

"It is simply untrue that Ireland provided favourable treatment to Apple," the minister said.

The Republic's politicians are being asked to back the government's decision to appeal against the order by a Brussels competition watchdog to recoup €13 billion.

The ruling by Commissioner Margrethe Vestager found that the Republic gave Apple a special tax deal which ultimately allowed the global brand to pay 0.005 per cent tax in 2014 - €50 for every one million of profit.

Mr Noonan said: "The reaction to the European Commission's decision has, at times, painted an outdated and unfair caricature of Ireland's position on tax," he said.

"This is a caricature that is at odds with the evidence and which overlooks our proven track record in recent years.

"The facts show our constructive engagement at the international table, with matchless implementation of reforms ahead of many of our partner countries."

The debate is taking place on the same day as Apple launches its next generation iPhone in San Francisco.

In the wake of the ruling, Apple also confirmed it has made provisions on its balance sheets for $30 billion of "deferred" tax bills in the US.

Mr Noonan insisted that the tech giant, which holds about $230 billion in cash reserves, paid full taxes in Ireland and got no special treatment from Ireland's Revenue Commissioners.

"Ireland has done nothing wrong here. We have a proven track record in international tax reform and a matchless commitment to meeting the best international standards," he told the Dail.

"We should not see ourselves through the eyes of our detractors - those who would paint a cartoonish and negative image of Ireland."

Part of the wider debate is Ireland's generous corporation tax rate of 12.5 per cent.

But Mr Noonan said that was founded on fairness, transparency, consistency and the rule of law, and he called on critics to to move on from myths and generalisations.

He said the European Commission ruling was encroaching on sovereign states' decisions on tax and contained contradictions on where Apple owed tax.

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