Apple could be made to repay unpaid tax in the EU. Photo: The Daily Show
Regulators are set to break down the reason tax deals given to Apple in Ireland violate EU laws, according to people familiar with the matter.
The European Commission began formal investigations into the tax avoidance issue back in June, and plans to publish its findings as early as today — with the claim that tax deals between Apple and the Irish government could fall under the heading of illegal state aid.
While Apple has yet to make a comment on the matter, the Irish government has spoken up; describing its position as “confident” that the Apple deal represents “no breach of state-aid rules.” It claims that it has already submitted a formal response to the European Commission, in which it addresses in detail “the concerns and some misunderstandings.”
Apple Store at NYC’s 5th Ave. (Photo by Phil Photostream – http://flic.kr/p/8S9RCu)
Remember back in the early 2000s when Apple opening a brick-and-mortar store in prime real estate locations seemed as crazy a gamble as Apple deciding to create its own mobile phone? Very few people would admit so now — particularly Apple’s rivals like Samsung and Microsoft which have followed the Apple Store example with their own surprisingly similar retail outfits.
In an attempt to stop others from copying the slick, high fashion minimalism of its Apple Stores, Apple has secured a court ruling allowing it to register the layout of its retail stores in the European Union as a trade mark — extending the intellectual property status that it already carries in the U.S.
Apple paid just 3.7% tax on its non-U.S. income last year — and the European Commission isn’t happy about it.
Registering its overseas business in Ireland, Apple is one of three companies being investigated for abusive transfer pricing and other forms of corporate profit shifting, with the other two being Starbucks and Fiat Finance and Trade.
The subject of corporate tax avoidance has become an increasingly hot-button issue in recent years, as the result of probes into international businesses like Apple and Google, which use convoluted structures as a means of slashing their tax bills.
An investigative magistrate in Belgium reportedly considered forcing Internet service providers to block Apple’s website, after claims that the company is misleading customers over warranty options.
Apple has been involved with a long-running dispute with the European legal system over its one-year limited warranty, which it offers as standard to consumers around the world — but which is in conflict with European regulations that allows buyers a minimum of two years’ free protection.
Europeans will next year be able to take their smartphones anywhere within the EU and enjoy calls, texts, and data without paying a penny more than they do at home. Expensive roaming fees are set to be scrapped by July 1, 2014, after the European Commission voted to fast-track a major overhaul of telecoms regulation.
Apple still isn’t correctly informing consumers about their warranty rights in Europe, according to the European Union’s Justice Commissioner, Vivian Reding.
The Cupertino company changed its European warranty policies last year after it came under fire for not meeting EU regulations. But it’s still not providing consumers with the right information in at least 21 of the EU member states, Reding says.
Did you know that EU law covers Apple products for a minimum of two years?
Apple’s AppleCare Protection Plan has come under fire once again in Europe after Test-Aankoop/Test-Achats, a Belgian consumer watchdog, filed a complaint against the way in which the Cupertino company markets the product in Europe.
Customers within the European Union are entitled to a free two-year warranty with any consumer electronics purchase, but Test-Aankoop/Test-Achats claims that Apple’s warranty marketing doesn’t properly explain these rights to Belgian shoppers.
The European Commission’s Vice President for Competition Policy, Joaquín Almunia, has confirmed that it will charge Samsung “very soon” in an antitrust patent case after the Korean electronics giant broke competition rules by filing patent-infringement lawsuits against Apple. Samsung has been under investigation since January for a possible breach of antitrust rules, and earlier this week, it dropped all of its injunction requests against Apple in Europe.
After an anti-trust lawsuit was launched by the European Union earlier this year to check whether or not Apple’s e-book pricing is anti-competitive, Apple and four publishers are ready to accept an offer from the EU to end the probe.
The acceptance of the offer hands Amazon a big victory in the battle for e-book pricing in Europe as it opens the door for Amazon to continue to sell online books cheaper than its rivals.
Did you know that EU law covers Apple products for a minimum two years?
EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding has called for Apple’s warranty adverts to be examined in the European Union’s 27 states. Reding hopes to establish whether or not the Cupertino company fails to mention a buyers’ right to a minimum two-year warranty for all electronics, including Macs and iOS devices.