EU countries demand slice of Apple tax bonanza


Bratislava (AFP)

Budget-squeezed EU countries will ask Brussels for their share of the billions in Irish back taxes demanded from tech giant Apple, officials said on Saturday.

The European Commission, the EU's powerful competition regulator, last month ordered Apple to reimburse a record 13 billion euros ($15 billion) in unpaid taxes in Ireland.

As part of its historic decision, which angered Washington, the commission said other EU countries could also claim a slice of the 13 billion euros.

"If it's legally accurate, you can be sure that as minister of finance I will take it," Austria's Hans Joerg Schelling said on the sidelines of two days of talks with his EU counterparts.

"We Austrians are looking at it intensively," Schelling said at the talks in Bratislava, Slovakia, adding that other member states -- including Italy -- were also considering a payout.

The commission argued that Dublin handed Apple favourable tax terms that amounted to state aid -- illegal under its rules.

EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager called Apple's operations in Ireland a "sham", designed to funnel revenue from throughout the European Union to avoid paying tax.

Spain, which is under threat of an EU fine for breaking spending rules, also said it would explore the idea of claiming its share in an effort to boost national revenue, a government source said.

However, the source told AFP that the method for calculating the amount was yet to be determined.

The European Commission said Apple paid an effective corporate tax rate of just 0.005 per cent on its European profits in 2014 -- equivalent to just 50 euros for every million.

Ireland's parliament this week voted in favour of appealing the European Commission ruling after a heated debate.