The EU is taking Ireland to court over Apple's €13bn tax bill

Lynsey Barber
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The EU says Apple owes Ireland billions of eurosin taxes (Source: Getty)

Brussels is taking further action in a landmark tax case involving Apple and Ireland.

Europe's competition chief Margrethe Vestager today said the European Commission is taking Ireland to court over its failure to collect a record €13bn (£11.5bn) in back taxes from Apple.

The EC last year ruled that a favourable "sweetheart" deal over tax rated between the two amounted to state aid.

Read more: The EU has ordered Amazon to pay a massive €250m tax bill

Ireland's failure to ask Apple for the cash means the matter has now been referred to the European Court of Justice.

"Ireland has to recover up to €13bn in illegal State aid from Apple. However, more than one year after the Commission adopted this decision, Ireland has still not recovered the money, also not in part," said Vestager,

"We of course understand that recovery in certain cases may be more complex than in others, and we are always ready to assist. But member states need to make sufficient progress to restore competition. That is why we have today decided to refer Ireland to the EU court for failing to implement our decision."

Read more: Revealed: Facebook's latest UK tax bill as revenues quadruple

Though it does not agree with the original ruling, Ireland has insisted that it is "fully committed to ensuring that recovery of the alleged Apple state aid takes place without delay and has committed significant resources to ensuring this is achieved. Ireland fully respects the rule of law in the European Union".

It added that the latest action was "extremely disappointing", "regrettable" and "wholly unnecessary" in a statement from the Irish finance ministry.

"Irish officials and experts have been engaged in intensive work to ensure that the State complies with all its recovery obligations as soon as possible, and have been in constant contact with the European Commission and Apple on all aspects of this process for over a year.

"It is extremely regrettable that the commission has taken this action, especially in relation to a case with such a large scale recovery amount. Ireland has made significant progress on this complex issue and is close to the establishment of an escrow fund, in compliance with all relevant Irish constitutional and European Union law.

"The work on the establishment of the escrow fund to deal with the unprecedented recovery amount will continue, notwithstanding the fact that commission has taken this wholly unnecessary step."

The action comes as the EU also slapped Amazon with a €250m bill for back taxes over a similar deal with Luxembourg.

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