Apple has missed its deadline to pay the €13 billion (£11.2 billion) it owes in tax to the Irish government, deemed to be illegal state aid.
Speaking in Dublin ahead of her appearance in front of Irish MPs, EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager described the payback process as “complicated”, according to CNBC.
“Well the recovery is not done yet but we have been working with the Irish authorities and we can see that they are moving forward to do the recovery of the unpaid taxes,” she said, according to the report.
“It’s a tricky thing to do because it’s a large sum so of course you have to figure out how to do that. It’s not as an escrow account in some of the other cases where it might be €25 or €30 million…and therefore I do respect that it’s a complicated matter and it may take a little more time.”
Apple was due to pay all the money into an escrow account, which is held by a third party, by January 3. That follows the European Commission ruling that Apple had been given special treatment by the Irish government, resulting in taxes of just 0.05%.
The issue is complicated by the fact that Ireland doesn’t actually want Apple to pay the money, since it might discourage other multinationals from setting up shop there. Ireland and Apple have separate appeals pending against the European Commission’s findings.
The issue has also divided opinion in Ireland, with opposition MPs suggesting the government should use the windfall to repair the country’s economy.
Vestager said during the session in front of Irish MPs on Tuesday that the commission wasn’t looking at the “motives” behind Ireland’s tax rules.
“We are not looking at who did what when, we’re not pointing fingers, there are no fines in state aid control,” she said. “We want the unpaid taxes to be recovered.”
Fine Gael’s Michael D’Arcy asked Vestager whether Apple could sue the Irish government for damage to its reputation. Vestager replied simply that she didn’t know. “I don’t have an opinion about it,” she said.
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