Apple, Google to Testify in EU Tax Hearing

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Apple, Google, IKEA, and McDonald's are all testifying before the European Union's tax committee on Wednesday to answer questions about their tax practices. The hearing is in response to growing EU concern over whether or not international companies are avoiding paying taxes.

Apple faces EU tax hearing Apple faces EU tax hearing 

The hearing will be more of a formality and fact finding event because the tax committee has no authority to change EU tax laws, according to Reuters. The committee is hoping to learn more about the tax deals companies strike with individual countries.

This isn't the first time the companies have found themselves under the EU's watchful eye for tax-related activities. Apple is in the midst of an European Commission investigation into its tax practices, Google has faced several tax-related investigations, and IKEA and McDonald's have been accused of working the system to get out of US$1 billion each in tax payments.

Fiat Chrysler and Starbucks were also asked to testify, but declined to participate because they're currently fighting EC rulings saying they owe millions in back taxes.

Apple has been criticized for using its presence in Ireland and local tax laws to minimize tax liability, which will likely come up in Wednesday's hearing.

Apple has continually asserted it complies with tax laws and pays all that it's required to in the EU and United States. Company CEO Tim Cook has said if lawmakers feel Apple and other corporations aren't paying enough, then new legislation needs to be passed.

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Companies like Apple and Google are held responsible by shareholders to protect profits, and finding ways to reduce tax liability is a part of that. There isn't anything wrong with companies pushing up to the limit of tax laws, however distasteful that may look, as long as they don't step over that line.

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The question is not “whether or not international companies are avoiding paying taxes.” Of course they are. Indeed, if Apple did not do everything they can to legally minimize their tax liability they would face shareholder lawsuits and possibly even an SEC investigation. That’s their job. The question is, was any of it illegal, and in that vein I think Apple is on solid ground. Even the deal in Ireland for which they likely will face an $8 billion bill was a legal arrangement when they were offered it by the Irish government. Apple’s actions were legal when they did them. If they were subsequently disallowed, is another question.


This may only be a fact finding hearing but the tax the rich crowd in Europe and the US will be all over the facts that are revealed. Other countries may look at Ireland as tax thieves depriving them of revenues.

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