Apple, Amazon face further scrutiny on European taxes

The European crackdown on alleged tax evasion by Apple and other U.S.-based tech and multinational companies continues to heat up.

In the latest move, the European Commission on Wednesday pressed Ireland for what it said was missing data on Apple’s tax practices in the country. European regulators are examining whether the Irish government gave Apple illegitimately special treatment by requiring it to pay less in taxes than it otherwise would have.

The E.C. letter to the Irish government followed up on an earlier request.

Ireland “did not reply in full to the Commission’s last request for information, ” E.C. spokesman Ricardo Cardoso said in an e-mail, according to Bloomberg.

Irish authorities said they had already “comprehensively” answered the information request, Bloomberg reported.

“The appropriate amount of Irish tax was charged in accordance with the relevant legislation,” the Irish Finance Ministry said in a statement.

The move by the E.C. came one day after Apple executive Cathy Kearney denied that Ireland has given the company an unfair advantage. Testifying in front of a panel of European lawmakers, Kearney, who is based in Cork, Ireland, and serves as the vice president of Apple’s European operations, said that Apple pays all the taxes required of it in Ireland.

“We feel that we’ve paid every cent of tax that is due in Ireland,” Kearney said, according to a separate report from Bloomberg. She added, “I would say that the Irish government also agrees with that view.”

Apple is perhaps the most prominent company in the crosshairs of European tax authorities. Late last year, the company agreed to pay Italy $350 million to settle tax-evasion claims there. Earlier this year, Bloomberg Intelligence estimated that Apple could owe some $8 billion in unpaid taxes across Europe.

But the iPhone maker isn’t the only company being investigated for tax evasion in Europe. Italian authorities have now trained their sights on Amazon, a company executive acknowledged on Tuesday. It’s unclear how much Italy is seeking in back taxes, and Francois Nuys, who heads up Amazon’s Italian and Spanish operations, argued that the company pays all the taxes it owes in the country.

In addition to forcing a settlement from Apple, Italy is also pressing Google for some $327 million in back taxes.

Other companies whose tax practices are under scrutiny in Europe are Facebook, Starbucks, McDonald’s and Fiat Chrysler.

Photo: Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, Calif. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)


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