From top: The panel on last night’s Prime Time and Dr Aidan Regan, of UCD
On RTÉ’s Prime Time.
The panel – Eoin Fahy, chief economist with KBI Global Investors, Minister for Housing Simon Coveney, Anti-Austerity Alliance TD Ruth Coppinger and Dr Aidan Regan, from the School of Politics and International Relations in UCD – discussed the Apple tax bill with presenter David McCullagh.
During the discussion…
Dr Aidan Regan: “This is the crucial point that really wasn’t picked up either, in the preceding interviews, the ruling that the Commission have issued basically states that Ireland should apply its tax laws, 12.5% consistently.
“It’s basically said that allowing Apple to set up a subsidiary, split it into two companies, allow them to transfer the sales profits to one of those companies, the head office, that is basically stateless, it’s in the cloud, ensures that they don’t pay tax – call it aggressive tax planning, call it corporate tax avoidance.”
“Now the point from the Commission’s perspective is that that’s perfectly legal and it has been legal. Now, the Government has since closed it. The argument of the Commission is that’s illegal state aid. So this is an argument about competition. The Commission is saying that Ireland has broke the laws of the European Union by facilitating a large multinational to have comparative advantage over its competitors in the market.
“So it’s not actually saying Ireland’s laws were wrong, it’s not about morality, it’s not about legality. They accept that was perfectly legal. They’re pointing out that it’s illegal to facilitate a company, like Apple.”
David McCullagh: “But that only applies if other companies didn’t get similar treatment and there doesn’t appear to be any evidence that if another company had come along and asked the same question that Apple asked, that they wouldn’t have got the same answer. In fact, it’s probably pretty obvious that they would have got the same answer.”
Dr Regan: “Possibly and this, I think, is what we don’t fully know. The full ruling is confidential and I would be very curious to see precisely what it was about those two particular tax rulings in 1991 and 2007 that clearly signal to Apple that it was OK for them to avoid paying the 12.5% by transferring their profits to another company and effectively pay zero.”
Watch back in full here