The European Commission announced Apple has received 13 billions of euro in illegal state aid from the Irish government. This decision follows the investigations on illegal state aid between the Dutch government and Starbucks, the Luxembourg government and Fiat, and the Belgian government for its ‘excess profit’ tax scheme. Sweetheart deals between EU States and big corporations deny governments funds to be invested in welfare and social services; nevertheless, they contribute to drive inequality across the world.
As underlined Aurore Chardonnet, Oxfam EU policy advisor on inequality and tax, the Apple ruling «shows that some tax practises by EU member states can be terribly damaging. Poverty in Europe has been rising and some EU countries have even had bailout programmes in recent years, so it makes no sense for European governments spurn the chance to raise billions in corporate tax income for the benefit of their citizens.»
Chardonnet does not shy away from stating that these sweetheart deals that let multinationals minimize their tax cannot be tolerated. «If people's trust in the tax system is to be restored» she said «European governments must act immediately to end these special deals otherwise people’s trust in the tax system will continue to evaporate. So far, the multinationals that have been exposed by the European Commission have only had to pay back their missing taxes – no additional fines have been levied. This is not a sufficient deterrent whatsoever».
Indeed, the bus does not stop with Apple ruling. Oxfam advocates that more needs to be done to stop such deals in the future including the disclosure of core elements of tax rulings. «In addition, companies must be forced to disclose where they generate their profits and where they pay their taxes. This would give governments and civil society the ability to hold these companies to account» said Chardonnet.
Cover photo: EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager. Credits JOHN THYS/AFP/Getty Images