EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager said yesterday that other multinationals which did not employ as extreme Irish tax schemes as Apple but shifted profits via the country to tax havens could also be breaching EU rules .
The commissioner slapped Apple with a record €13-billion bill on Tuesday, for Irish registered units that Dublin authorities accepted were not liable to tax in any country (See: EC orders Apple to pay €13 bn in taxes plus interest to Irish government over illegal profit routing). Vestager told Reuters in an interview that arrangement of other firms, which involved routing profits to Irish registered subsidiaries tax resident in places like Bermuda, might fall foul of the commission on similar grounds.
"Taxes have been paid nowhere due to the Irish tax code," she said.
In response to a question whether the bill would have been different if the head office of Apple's Irish unit had been registered and paid tax in Bermuda, Vestager said: "not much".
She added that the core of the case against Apple was that it had an Irish registered company that booked most of the profits generated across Europe.
However, since the unit was not deemed tax resident in Ireland, the unit was able to report only a small amount of taxable income at an Irish 'branch'.
Meanwhile, Apple Inc chief Tim Cook said the company might repatriate at least some of the billions of dollars of cash it held offshore as early as next year. His comments came after the €13 billion tax decision by EU authorities.
Apple held about $215 billion in cash and other liquid investments offshore and had made provisions for an eventual repatriation of some of the funds.
However, Apple had suggested that no part of the money would be moved to the US as long as corporate tax code did not change in the US to make such a move less costly.
In August Cook told The Washington Post, that the company would not bring the money back "until there's a fair rate". He added however, that he was optimistic of corporate tax changes next year.