EU governments meet to divvy up $14.5 billion Apple tax windfall

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Apple hasn't paid the money yet, but already it's being divvied up.
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

European Union finance ministers reportedly discussed how to divvy up the windfall from Apple’s 13 billion euros tax bill at a closed-door meeting in Slovakia over the weekend.

Some European governments were reportedly more keen on getting their hands on Apple’s money than others, with Germany’s Wolfgang Schäuble saying, “Of course we’re looking into it.”

France, meanwhile, has said it isn’t going to “send in the troops” over the issue, but Austria’s finance minister said France is intrigued by the idea.

The $14.52 billion bill for back taxes was recently handed to Apple after a long-running European investigation, which concluded that the company was taking advantage of illegal state aid that allowed the company to route profits through Ireland. According to the probe, Apple paid a tax rate of as little as 0.005 percent on its European profits in 2014. To put that number in perspective, it’s around $50 tax for every $1 million brought in.

Since Apple was handed its tax bill, both Apple and the Irish government (despite being the country that would benefit from the windfall) have said they will appeal the decision.

In an interview concerning the case, Tim Cook — who has also written an open letter defending Apple’s position — said the demands for more money amounted to “political crap,” and that anti-U.S. bias could be behind the verdict.

Jeroen Dijsselbloem, president of the eurozone’s finance ministers, has struck back by accusing Apple of “[failing] to grasp” the public outcry concerning tax avoidance by multinational corporations.

While I suspect most people are going to struggle to choose the good guys in this story, reports like today’s certainly don’t counteract suggestions that the tax bill was part of a shakedown cash grab.

Who do you think is in the right with the current tax standoff between Apple and the European Union? Leave your comments below.

Source: Politico (paywall)