Dublin city centre.
Activists Charlie Kiehne (19) and Samuel Bosch (18) hung a banner outside a store selling Apple products in protest against Apple’s tax practices.
Pic: Charlie Kiehne and Samuel Bosch
Apple CEO Tim Cook with former Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at an event last year in Dublin celebrating Apple’s 40 years in Ireland
Apple and Ireland have won their appeal against the European Commission’s €13.1bn tax ruling.
The General Court of the European Union (GCEU) has annulled the decision taken by the Commission regarding the Irish tax rulings in favour of Apple.
According to the GCEU, the Commission was wrong to declare that Apple Sales International and Apple Operations Europe had been granted a selective economic advantage and, by extension, State aid.
It says the Commission failed to show “to the requisite legal standard” that Apple enjoyed preferential treatment which amounted to illegal State aid.
From top: Apple CEO Tim Cook greets Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at an IDA Ireland event in the National Concert Hall last month to mark Apple’s 40 years of investment; Aidan Regan
On RTÉ’ Radio One’s Morning Ireland.
Dr Gavin Jennings asked rhetorically why most people who voted in the general election, and who responded to RTÉ’s exit poll, said “they didn’t believe they benefitted from the country’s economic recovery”.
He told listeners:
“Ireland’s economy is growing richer, faster than most European countries and there are more people working than ever before.”
Dr Jennings then interviewed Associate Professor at University College Dublin’s School of Politics and International Relations Aidan Regan, who writes a column in the Business Post.
Dr Gavin Jennings: “You were writing in the Sunday Business Post, as far back as 2017 that the economic boom was setting up a political timebomb that could stoke a Brexit-style backlash. What did you mean and do you think you were right?”
Aidan Regan: “I mean, broadly speaking, yes. Perhaps not as quick as has appeared to have happened. But what’s meant by that, and of course, I don’t pick the headlines for these things…what’s meant by that is that Ireland is very dependent on one or two key sectors and in particular, and increasingly so, on the ICTC sector, let’s say big tech, right, for your listeners.”
“And that foreign direct investment and big capital for technology companies has been beneficial right? It has ultimately lifted the economy out of the recession. It has generated computer service exports and in that sense has enabled the Government in the austerity years to implement an internal adjustment without effectively crashing the entire economy.
“But, in terms of the kind of job and income growth and productivity gains that comes with that, it’s very narrowly concentrated in a very small section of the workforce.
“And those work in these high-tech, high-income sectors, or more concretely, in these firms, like think about Dublin City here where we are, Google is the biggest…”
Jennings: “Apple, Cork, yeah.”
Regan: “….biggest private employer in the city. You know, if you’re working those companies, of course you don’t feel, you don’t, there never has been a recession. There has been no austerity. But you do obviously feel the effects of under investment in public service infrastructure.
“So the point of that article and the point of that research suggested was ‘look this is not sustainable’. When you have an economy that’s so dependent on one or two key sectors, and the net gains of that increasingly are concentrated, in addition to the fact that there’s a lot of funny money floating around.
“The headline figures look a lot better than they are. It does not provide the fertile ground for political and electoral sustainability.”
Jennings: “There has been a rise in wages nationally. But it’s an uneven rise in wages.”
Regan: “Yes, I mean. So overall in the economy, and particularly in the past couple of years, overall earnings have gone up. People’s wages have improved but some people’s wages have improved by double digit figures on a year-on-year basis for a couple of years.
“When you have that type of wage growth, it obviously creates, that’s to say, puts upward pressure on the price of non-tradeables as you would say, basically housing, rent, restaurants, etc. And so therefore, if you’re earning those higher incomes, in those particular sectors, you’re in a position to, well, afford to pay the cost of living within the city that you would live in.
“But not everybody earns those types of wages.
“So whilst there has been a growth overall in our earnings and wages, it has not been equal. And, effectively, if you look at the income distribution, break it down by earnings. It doesn’t look as healthy as is often assumed.
“I mean the median wage in this country is about €36,000. Gross income, it’s stripped out. If you include earnings and non-earnings, 85 per cent of people in this country have less than €50,000. That’s not a huge amount of money to be able to afford those things in this country which are expensive, housing, health, education.”
Regan: “It’s estimated that 70 per cent of people who work in Google are non-Irish which would suggest that they don’t have a vote in the national elections. The public policy regime in Ireland is increasingly tailored to, you know, the high-tech, higher income earners and that’s understandable which would make sense in most countries, given that those same people would have a vote and they would typically support, in this case, the centre, centre-right parties.
“And that’s what you would expect. But in this country, that’s not the case because these people don’t have a vote. So it’s a very volatile growth regime. It’s a very volatile growth model that’s dependent upon not just inward investment from US multi-nationals but also the free movement of workers from the European Union.”
“Nobody went wrong by betting on the people of Cork to achieve the impossible”.
Great to hear Apple CEO @tim_cook speak so fondly of Apple’s 40 years in Cork during his keynote address at the #LookingToTheFuture event in the National Concert Hall this morning. pic.twitter.com/Wqp1yWUR4g
— IDA SouthWest Region (@IDASouthWest) January 20, 2020
National Concert Hall, Dublin 2.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar on stage as tax-owing Apple CEO Tim Cook addresses an IDA ”Looking To The Future’ event.
Previously: Core Values
Village Magazine tweetz:
“Here is the illustration by Faye Larkin for Master of the High Court Edmund Honohan’s interesting analysis of Apple’s tax arrangements with Ireland. Read the piece on our website.”
Previously: Edmund Honohan on Broadsheet
Apple HQ, Cork
Even among those employees who were concerned by the ethics of the programme, there has been anger about how the job losses have proceeded.
“I’m relieved this information came out,” said one former contractor who asked to remain anonymous due to a still-active non-disclosure agreement, “although I was involved in the work and I just lost my job. Discussions around ethics in this job was a constant between workers, but we don’t know how to bring it up.”
But, they added, “Apple, recruiting through vendor companies in Ireland, take absolutely no responsibility in the employment of contractors and their treatment in work.
They do what they want, and when they’re done with your project or they screw up (like what just happened), they tell your vendor company to let you go, which they do … It’s been coming at them for over a year.
How could they not see this coming? Did they think about protecting their employees at all? Or just their reputation?”
“We’ve all been laid off after the scandal, with no protection against this. More than 300 at once just in Cork, with no redundancy, just one week’s notice.”
“It is not acceptable that workers can be made unemployed with no notice given and then paid off with just one weeks’ pay. Apple are responsible for the position these workers find themselves in and Apple cannot just turn their backs and ignore the workers’ plight.”
Solidarity Cork North Central TD Mick Barry
Quick, take the bins in! pic.twitter.com/QFLCbHpVKf
— Anne-Marie Smyth (@Anne_MarieSmyth) June 17, 2019
Dublin, unspecified location.
A sensor-equipped jammer – among a fleet- currently collecting road details, signage and landmarks across Ireland
Apple will incorporate this information into its modern Apple Maps dataset, which is being rebuilt literally from the ground up.
BREAKING: Apple’s announced it will not be proceeding with plans to build an €850m data centre in Athenry, Co Galway. Says despite its best efforts delays in the approval process have forced it to make other plans. Adds setback won’t dampen enthusiasm for future projects here.
— Will Goodbody (@willgoodbody) May 10, 2018
From top: Social Democrat TD Roisin Shortall and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar
In the Dail.
During Leaders’ Questions.
Social Democrat TD Roisin Shortall raised the Paradise Papers with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.
Ms Shortall said:
“Taoiseach, I want to raise the issue of the Paradise Papers and the information which is now emerging in respect of Apple’s tax arrangements.
“The facilitation of these arrangements, by successive Irish Governments and the considerable negative impact which this is having on Ireland’s reputation.
“The central theme, running through the Paradise Papers, is the relentless quest of the wealthy and the powerful , the great and the good, to find ways of avoiding paying tax.
“We saw this most startlingly in the operation of the Double Irish and its use by Apple and the subsequent ruling by the European Commission that this favourable treatment constituted state aid.
“In that regard it certainly seemed that the facilitation of tax avoidance was an intentional strategy, adopted by Government, and its agencies, in 1991, and updated in 2007.
“It was very hard to understand why the Government in Septmeber of last year, with the full benefit of hindsight, could stand over the manner in which the sweetheart deals were done and vouch for their full compliance with the law.
“The public, generally, cannot understand why the Government should now be spending considerable, additional millions in appealing that ruling.
“Then Minister Michael Noonan’s position was very hard to understand.
“In 2013, he signalled that he intended to close down the Double Irish on which the tax avoidance arrangement was based.
“The impact of this was considerable for Apple’s tax liability. We know that there was much engagement between Apple and the Department of Finance around this time.
“We also know, thanks to the Paradise Papers, that Apple went on a jurisdiction shopping spree in search of another tax-dodging deal.
“We know that following the closing of the Double Irish that Apple restructured their companies, that they registered two of their Cork companies in Jersey and took up tax residency in Ireland where their remaining Cork company Apple Operations Europe.
“This combined with the changes made to the Capital Allowance regime in 2014 allowed Apple to sell their IP back to the Irish registered company and avail of the massive tax breaks which this measure facilitated.
“So, Taoiseach, the questions are: Was our Capital Allowance regime changed to allow Apple to keep it’s formerly stateless profits entirely untaxed?
“In other words, was it done to compensate Apple for the loss of the Double Irish?
“Had Apple, or their representatives, requested a change to the Capital Allowances regime?
“And how much has Apple benefited by this change?
“And how much as the State lost?”
Mr Varadkar said:
“The answer to your question is: No, or at least, not to my knowledge. It maybe a question that you want to put to the Minster for Finance who would have more information thanI do on those particular matters.
“I don’t have a detailed knowledge of any companies’ tax affairs or any individual’s tax affairs for that matter?
“Tax avoidance is very much an international problem. And international problems require international solutions.
“And, as we found, when it comes to dealing with tax avoidance, by large companies, once one country acts, the company just moves to another jurisdiction.
“That is why we need an international solution to this problem if we’re going to bring about a situation whereby companies pays their fair share of tax.
“In this regard, Ireland is an international leader. The OECD, the organisation for economic co-operation and development, based in Paris, is the international organisation that deals with taxation and deals with this area, making sure that companies aren’t able to exploit differences in tax law from one jurisdiction to the next.
“The OECD has designated Ireland as one of only 22 countries in a world of nearly 200 where we’re entirely tax compliant, or compliant rather with tax transparency
“And we’ve also signed up to information sharing. So we’re going to share information from one country to the next as to how much tax each company pays in different jurisdictions. That’s going to be very useful.”
…The Double Irish is gone. Stateless companies are gone as well. And also the current Finance Bill which is going through changed the way that we tax intellectual property.
“However we don’t accept at all that Ireland was involved in any special arrangement or state aid for Apple and that is why we are fighting that case.
“Because it’s simply not the case that Ireland was involved in State aid.”