Vestager Lauds Tax Decisions as She Reviews Apple, Amazon Cases
The European Union’s top antitrust official lauded rulings ordering two companies to repay tens of millions of euros in back taxes as she considers similar decisions involving Apple Inc. and Amazon.com Inc.
European Union competition chief Margrethe Vestager told lawmakers Monday that the rulings last month against Starbucks Corp. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV send a strong signal to national governments that they can’t use tax rules as a backdoor to give multinational corporations illegal state aid.
“I will continue to open tax ruling cases if we have doubts that the rules are not followed as they should be,” Vestager told members of the European Parliament at a hearing Monday.
The rulings last month that ordered Starbucks and Fiat to repay as much as 30 million euros ($32 million) to the Netherlands and Luxembourg, respectively, were widely seen as a preview of what could happen to Apple and Amazon after a spate of bad publicity about companies that received sweetheart tax deals. Documents leaked by a group of investigative journalists showed that Luxembourg alone struck hundreds of secret fiscal deals known as tax rulings with companies from around the world, from Amazon to Walt Disney Co.
Vestager said national governments should implement Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development rules that cut down on tax avoidance.
“What we’re trying to achieve is that looking forward you have a tax ruling that” is compatible with state aid rules, Vestager said.
Apple raised a flag in April about the potential cost if the company is required to pay past taxes to Ireland as part of the commission investigation. While Apple hasn’t been able to estimate the amount, it could be “material,” the Cupertino, California-based technology company said in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Irish Finance Minister Michael Noonan told journalists in Brussels today that the government expected a ruling on the tax deal with Apple before Christmas.