Did Apple Pay Too Little Tax? (A) Appealing the EU Ruling on Illegal State Aid
On 30 August 2016, Margrethe Vestager, the European Commissioner for Competition, ordered Ireland to recover 13 billion in illegal state aid that the state had granted Apple over a decade from 2003. In allowing Apple to pay close to zero in taxes, she ruled, Ireland had given the foreign company a selective advantage over other businesses paying the regular corporate tax rate of 12.5%. Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, and Enda Kenny, the Irish Prime Minister, appealed the ruling, a process that is still ongoing. The case explores this event from five analytical pillars: 1) the role of Ireland's low corporate tax rate in attracting FDI; 2) Apple's decision to allocate its earnings to a paper company in Ireland with no physical presence in the country; 3) the repatriation of foreign earnings to the United States; 4) the transfer payments that Apple makes to the US to pay for R&D; 5) the Commissioner's decision to impose a retroactive tax penalty on a foreign company that acted in accordance with the tax arrangements granted by its host country.