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EU Investigations

Dáil Éireann Debate, Thursday - 3 July 2014

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Ceisteanna (23)

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

23. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance the procedure for the EU Commission’s investigation into a possible State aid breach by Ireland in the case of Apple; his views on whether the scope of the investigation will be widened; and if the Revenue Commissioner have changed or are intending to change their procedure for advanced opinions. [28490/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I have been very clear that the current investigation that has been opened into Ireland by the Competition Directorate of the EU Commission relates to a single case.  This investigation is not about the Irish tax system or about the 12.5% rate of corporation tax.  The Commission is examining a very technical issue regarding one company and is looking at whether the correct basis was used for attributing profits to the Irish operations of this one company.

This investigation relates to this company and this company alone.  However, the Deputy may wish to be aware that the Irish case is part of a much wider investigation by the EU Commission, which is looking at tax rulings and patent boxes in a number of different Member States.  I'm sure that the Deputy has already noted the announcement made in respect of the Netherlands and Luxembourg, and that Commissioner Almunia said in his press conference that a number of other countries are also being examined.

The Commission has now formally written to Ireland to ask for our response to their concerns in relation to the case involved.   It should be noted that this process is a confidential matter between Ireland and the European Commission.  However, the Commission will publish a redacted version of its letter to Ireland in due course.  Ireland will respond to this letter, comprehensively addressing the Commission's concerns. 

I would like to emphasise at this stage that the Commission has only opened a formal investigation it has not made a final determination on state aid in respect of Ireland.  For state aid to exist in this case, less tax must have been charged to the company than should have been applied, and this must have distorted competition within the single market.  Our response to the European Commission will be clear - the appropriate amount of Irish tax was charged, no selective advantage was given and there was no state aid.

But, the Commission has a job to do and Ireland has co-operated fully with the process and will continue to do so.  In an investigation such as this, the Commission may decide that there is no state aid after a Member State provides this additional information and clarification. 

In the event that the Commission does in fact form the view that there is state aid, Ireland is entitled to challenge this decision in the European Courts.  As I and my colleagues in Government have already indicated, we will take that course of action, if necessary, and vigorously defend the Irish position.

In relation to the procedure for advance opinions, I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that advance opinions are provided by Revenue to assist taxpayers in complying with their tax obligations under the law and paying the taxes that are properly due. The Commissioners periodically review their standard administrative practices, including the arrangements for providing advance opinions, as required in the light of legislative and organisational changes.

In May of this year, Revenue issued Tax Briefing 4 of 2014 which sets out the procedures to be followed by taxpayers and agents when requesting an opinion or confirmation from Large Cases Division (LCD) in advance of the transaction or event concerned. This publication updated the existing guidelines to take account of legislative and organisational changes. For non-LCD cases, the Guidelines on Revenue's Technical Service to Practitioners and Business Taxpayers sets out the applicable procedures for seeking an opinion or confirmation in respect of a proposed transaction and these guidelines are currently being updated.

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