Imagine if somebody tried to give you €13 billion – you’d be shocked and appalled, and quite right too.
And that’s exactly the put-upon position the Irish government presently finds itself in, as the mighty Apple Inc tries to force the gargantuan payment down its unwilling throat.
The tech firm has been ordered to pay back vast sums in unpaid taxes to the Irish state by the European Commission, which ruled last year that Apple’s deal with the country was illegal.
Speaking in Brussels, a deeply unenthusiastic finance minister Pascal Donohoe droned unhappily: ‘We have now reached agreement with Apple in relation to the principles and operation of the escrow fund. We expect the money will begin to be transmitted into the account from Apple across the first quarter of next year.’
The Irish government’s apparent distaste for mass amounts of cash being thrust at it is simple: for years it offered Apple a cosy tax environment, on the understanding that the American firm would base its operations in the country. Sadly, the EU has spoilt things with its insistence on large firms paying their fair share.
Apple has recently found a new base for its tax-phobic operations – the island paradise of Jersey, with its kindly 0% corporate tax rate for foreign firms. It currently has about $252bn stashed there, so €13bn shouldn’t be too hard to find. Still gotta hurt, though.
Anyhow, Ireland has now been ordered to put Apple’s money into a blocked bank account (hope someone remembers the login details) while the firm attempts to appeal the European Commission’s decision.