Apple strikes interim deal on escrow fund for $15B Irish tax claim

The EU ruling that Ireland offered illegal state aid to Apple, and must recover €13B ($15B) in underpaid taxes, marked the end of a long-running investigation – but not the end of the dispute …

Both Apple and the Irish government have appealed the ruling, but the position in the meantime is that the amount must be collected. Ireland said back in the summer that it would do so under protest.

Apple agreed to place the money into escrow, but as $15B escrow funds aren’t exactly available as off-the-shelf financial products, and the iPhone maker believes it will get its money back when a court finally rules, it wanted to negotiate the terms of the escrow fund – presumably to ensure that it is earning a decent return.

The WSJ reports that Apple and the Irish government have now agreed the terms of this account.

Apple Inc. and Ireland have reached an agreement on the terms of an escrow fund, allowing the transfer of roughly €13 billion ($15.46 billion) in allegedly unpaid taxes that the European Union ordered Dublin to retrieve, beginning in the first quarter of next year, Ireland’s finance chief said Monday.

Perhaps the fund will invest in AAPL …

While the ruling is that Ireland broke the law, not Apple, the Cupertino company has been accused of using legal but aggressive tax-avoidance measures, seeking alternatives once the Irish arrangement was ended.

Apple has consistently denied that it does anything unusual, though my own view is that the long line of claims to the contrary are at odds with the company’s stated commitment to social responsibility – and that it needs to take steps to ensure that it is not seen to be attempting to avoid tax.

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