The European Commission has opened three investigations to examine whether tax authorities have made appropriate decisions about corporate tax paid by Apple in Ireland, Starbucks in the Netherlands and Fiat Finance and Trade in Luxembourg.
It’s launched the investigation following media reports that suggest that some companies have received significant tax reductions through ‘tax rulings’ issued by national tax authorities. Although it’s acceptable for authorities to issue a formal tax ruling that clarifies a company’s tax position, this could breach EU rules on competition if they favour certain companies above others.
Joaquín Almunia, European Commission Vice President in charge of competition policy, said “In the current context of tight public budgets, it is particularly important that large multinationals pay their fair share of taxes. Under the EU’s state aid rules, national authorities cannot take measures allowing certain companies to pay less tax than they should if the tax rules of the Member State were applied in a fair and non-discriminatory way.”
[EC: video clip of press briefing]