Apple is “welcome” to come to the UK Downing Street reportedly told The Telegraph on Tuesday.
The comments came just hours after the European Commission ordered Ireland to reclaim €13 billion (£10 billion; $14.5 billion) from Apple in back taxes — a move that has angered both Apple and the Irish government.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman reportedly told The Telegraph that the tax ruling was “clearly an issue for the Irish government, Apple and the European Commission”.
However, when asked if the UK would like to see Apple locate to its shores, the spokesman reportedly said: “The narrative of the government has been well set out. Britain is open for business, we welcome any company wishing to invest in Britain and Britain’s workforce.
“You have seen today that Liam Fox has laid out that we have had a record year for inward investment for the year up to May this year which is proof we are one of the most attractive places to do business in — we would welcome any company that is prepared to invest in this country.”
Apple already has a sizable office in London’s West End but this is dwarfed by the company’s operations in Ireland, where more than 5,500 people are based across two main hubs in Cork.
The European Commission started to look into Apple’s Irish tax rate in 2014, so the decision is the culmination of a three-year investigation.Both Apple and Ireland said they plan to appeal the European Commission ruling.
The spokesman was also asked if the UK Treasury would be willing to negotiate with Apple on tax. The spokesman reportedly responded saying: “We have made clear that all companies that are registered in England pay the tax that they owe.”
Apple CEO Tim Cook has criticised the international tax system as “not good,” and he previously vowed to appeal the decision if he felt that Apple didn’t “get a fair hearing.”
“Let me explain what goes on with our international taxes,” Cook told The Washington Post. “The money that’s in Ireland … is money that is subject to US taxes. The tax law right now says we can keep that in Ireland or we can bring it back.
“It’s important for everyone to understand that the allegation made in the EU is that Ireland gave us a special deal. Ireland denies that,” Cook said. “The basic controversy at the root of this is, people really aren’t arguing that Apple should pay more taxes. They’re arguing about who they should be paid to. And so there’s a tug of war going on between the countries of how you allocate profits.”
Several other US tech giants — including Google, Amazon, and Facebook — have their European headquarters in Ireland. It’s currently unclear how Tuesday’s decision will impact them going forward.
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