Starbucks’ tax hearing in Europe gives hope for Apple’s own tax battle

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Apple Pay finally overtakes Starbucks in mobile payments
Starbucks case could offer a clue concerning Apple's own $14.4 billion tax battle.
Photo: Nicky Colman/Flickr

Apple has received a glimpse of hope in its giant $14.4 billion tax battle against the EU. On Tuesday, the European Commission’s similar tax case against Starbucks collapsed. The EC claimed that Starbucks had received an unfair sweetheart tax deal in the Netherlands. The European Commission’s General Court overturned this earlier 2015 decision.

But another case against Fiat Chrysler concluded with the European court saying that it had enjoyed preferential tax treatment in Luxembourg.

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iOS 11 iPad Pro
Look out for the changes next month.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Apple will get an early indication of its EU tax case outcome this week

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Fiat and Starbucks cases will offer Apple advance warning (or good news) about its ongoing EU tax battle.
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Apple could get an early indication about the likely outcome of its giant European Union (EU) tax case early this week.

Apple was in court last week protesting its 13 billion ($14.4 billion) tax bill from the EU. Although the case is likely to drag on for months, two related cases will be ruled on this week. They may offer Apple some clues about its chances of success.

Apple heads to court this week to battle world’s biggest tax case

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Apple was handed a $14.4 billion tax bill in 2016.
Photo: rawpixel.com/Pexels CC

Apple has a fight on its hands this week as it goes to court to battle the world’s biggest tax case. The company will protest its 2016 European Union tax bill of 13 billion euros ($14.4 billion).

The EU charged Apple the money after saying it had an unfair tax arrangement with Ireland. Apple has always protested its innocence. This week, a court will start the process of deciding whether the regulators were right.

Google agrees to pay France $1.1 billion to end tax investigation

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Google is the latest tech giant to be fined in France.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Google will pay a total of $1.1 billion to end a four-year probe into its tax activities in France. This is a combination of fine and repayment of additional taxes Google didn’t pay first time around.

France and Germany have both pushed for tighter tax regulations of multination tech giants. Others — Apple included — have been charged in the past. They may have to stump up more cash in the future, too.

Trump ‘concerned’ about French law targeting Apple and other tech giants

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Trump is worried French tax law could hurt tech giants including Apple.
Photo: White House

President Donald Trump is stepping up to defend Apple. Well, kind of.

The president ordered an investigation into France’s planned tax on big tech companies like Apple, Alphabet, Facebook and Amazon. The Office of the United States Trade Representative said the tax “unfairly targets” American companies.

Update 1: France passed the tax Thursday, according to Agence France-Presse: “The legislation — dubbed the GAFA tax in an acronym for Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon — was passed by a simple show of hands in the Senate upper house after it was agreed by the National Assembly lower chamber earlier this month.”

Fund containing Apple’s giant EU tax bill lost $18 million last year

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The escrow contains Apple's massive $16 billion fine.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

The escrow fund containing the massive $16 billion fine Apple was commanded to pay by the EU declined by $18 million last year.

The funds are being held in an escrow account while appeals by Apple and Ireland make their way through the court. In the meantime, the money is invested — but, at least based on last year, not as successfully as hoped.

German finance minister blasts tech giants which ‘pay taxes nowhere’

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Cash app with cash money
Apple has previously battled the EU over tax avoidance.
Photo: Ian Fuchs/Cult of Mac

Germany’s finance minister Olaf Scholz has slammed tech giants that “pay taxes nowhere.”

It’s the latest shot at tech giants such as Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon which have previously clashed with the European Union on tax issues. In an interview with CNBC, Scholz argued that “we should find a global agreement” to shut tax avoidance loopholes.