Apple’s Irish escrow fund loses another €259 million

Apple’s Irish escrow fund has lost another €259 million as an European Commission ruling is awaited, reports The Irish Times.

The European Commission, Europe’s anti-trust and consumer investigation agency, ruled in 2016 that Ireland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands have attracted investment and jobs by helping big companies avoid tax in other countries, including European Union members. 

The commission said Ireland was too lenient in rulings it gave to Apple and which helped the company shield tens of billions of dollars in profit from taxation. At 12.5%, Ireland’s corporate tax rate beats the U.S. rate of 35%. However, participating companies don’t pay that 12.5% under the double Irish structure.

The Irish government wasn’t happy with the EU ruling. It worried about being held accountable for any depreciation on the money went into an escrow account if the tech giant should win an appeal at some point and need a refund.

“We are not the global tax collector for everybody else,” Ireland’s finance minister Pascal Donohoe said in September 2018.

Tim Cook branded the European Commission ruling “total political crap.” Apple’s CEO also suggested the “retroactive” tax bill was an attempt by the European Union to grab taxes owed to the U.S. treasury and harmonize tax rates across the 28-nation bloc. 

Apple and Ireland appealed the original ruling, claiming the tax treatment was in-line with local and EU laws. won their case in 2020, with the General Court in Luxembourg deciding that the commission failed to show to “the requisite legal standard” that the US tech giant secured an unfair tax advantage in the decade to 2014.

A hearing on the commission’s appeal against that decision was heard by the European Court of Justice last month, with the court’s advocate general set to deliver his influential opinion on November 9th – ahead of a final ruling.

The Department of Finance said on Wednesday that a further €259 million was knocked off the fund’s value last year, to bring it down to less than €13.4 billion.

The Irish Times says that some €253 million of the decline was the result of the value of bond investments falling as the market interest rates – or yield – on debt globally rose last year amid a flurry of central bank rate hikes. Bond prices and yields have an inverse relationship. The remaining €6 million hit was a result of operating expenses, the article adds.

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