- Margrethe Vestager said she had spoken to Apple about the controversial tax structures highlighted in the Paradise Papers.
- Apple claims that it has paid its fair share of tax and that it hasn’t broken any laws.
Margrethe Vestager, the European Commissioner for Competition, said she was in touch with Apple about the company’s controversial tax structures — revealed in the so-called Paradise Papers this week — before the media published them.
The Paradise Papers — published on Monday — show that Apple has been siphoning billions of dollars of profits through the offshore tax haven of Jersey, where corporation tax is 0%.
“I have been asking for an update on the arrangement made by Apple, the recent way they have been organised, in order to get the feeling whether or not this is in accordance with our European rules but that remains to be seen,” Vestager told journalists at the Web Summit tech conference in Lisbon, according to Reuters.
“We have taken an interest in getting to know how Apple is organised now and we did that before the publication of the Paradise papers,” Vestager said.
The Danish politician added that it was too early to say whether the Paradise Papers would lead to any investigation. “That remains to be seen if we will open more cases after the Paradise Papers,” she said.
Vestager added: “We cannot forever rely on groups of journalists to do this, we also need more transparency in our public arena.”
Apple denies that it has done anything wrong. In a statement on the company’s website, Apple said it has paid $35 billion (£26 billion) in corporate income taxes over the last three years.
— Mark Scott (@markscott82) November 7, 2017
“The debate over Apple’s taxes is not about how much we owe but where we owe it. As the largest taxpayer in the world we’ve paid over $35 billion in corporate income taxes over the past three years, plus billions of dollars more in property tax, payroll tax, sales tax and VAT,” said Apple in a statement.
“We believe every company has a responsibility to pay the taxes they owe and we’re proud of the economic contributions we make to the countries and communities where we do business.”
Last week, Vestager said that Silicon Valley tech giants should fear not playing by the rules. Speaking at the Wired Live conference in London, Vestager said companies should be “afraid not to do the right thing, which is to play by the rule book.” At the conference, Vestager strongly denied that she had a bias against the US and insisted she is a tech optimist as opposed to a tech pessimist.
— Adrian Weckler (@adrianweckler) November 7, 2017
Vestager has handed out huge fines worth billions of dollars to companies like Apple, Google, and Amazon in the last 18 months for matters relating to unpaid taxes and unfair competition.
Apple was told to pay Ireland €13 billion (£11.6 billion) in unpaid taxes last August, for example, while Google was ordered to pay €2.4 billion (£2.1 billion) in June or promoting its Google Shopping results above similar comparison results from rivals. The Apple back taxes are yet to be reclaimed by the Irish government but the Google bill has been settled, Vestager said.