Senior official says Ireland and Apple are close to securing a deal over money
about 11 hours ago
Apple’s €13 billion is to be transferred to an escrow account which will manage the funds pending a legal challenge to the European Commission’s 2016 ruling. Photograph: CJ Gunther/EPA
The Department of Finance is still unable to provide a clear date for when the Government will start collecting the €13 billion in illegal State aid from Apple.
A senior department official told the Public Accounts Committee that agreement had almost been reached with the company over the collection of the money.
However, 15 months after the European Commission’s original ruling that Ireland’s tax deal with the iPhone maker breached EU state aid rules, he could not specify when the repayment would begin.
“We are working at the moment for the resolution of this and the infrastructure to be put in place in early 2018,” John Hogan, assistant secretary at the Department of Finance, said.
The €13 billion is to be transferred to an escrow account which will manage the funds pending a legal challenge to the commission’s ruling.
The department is still conducting a procurement process to appoint an escrow agent and a custodian to hold the assets and administer the fund.
Mr Hogan acknowledged that the process had taken longer than expected. However, he said it was an unprecedented amount in terms of state aid recovery which required “ a bespoke solution”.
The European Commission has moved to refer Ireland to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for failing to recover the money, a decision which the Government has described as “regrettable”.
The chair of the committee, Seán Fleming, asked Mr Hogan if he thought the time Ireland was taking over this was damaging to its reputation internationally or if he feared US president Donald Trump might be able to repatriate the money while the department here was setting up its escrow account.
“We’re alive to whatever risks are operating in the international environment but from our perspective we wanted to put in place the right deal and the right protections that are in the escrow account in the interests of the Irish taxpayer,” Mr Hogan said.
He said he expected the arrangements to be endorsed by the company in the coming weeks.
Ireland had been given an initial deadline of January 2017 to recoup the money, plus interest, which may bring it up to €15 billion.
The committee also heard from the chairman of the Revenue Commissioners Niall Cody on Ireland’s corporation tax receipts, which have leaped in recent years.
Mr Cody acknowledged there had been a “level shift” in Ireland’s corporate tax with receipts jumping 49 per cent to €6.87 billion amid a massive transfer of multinational assets here.
He said this uptick had been maintained with receipts for last year amounting to €7.35 billion
The C&AG’s report also highlighted the fragility of the State’s corporate tax base, with 37 per cent of receipts coming from just 10 firms and 70 per cent from the top 100.