It's a fact: for its operations in Europe, Big Tech does not hesitate to practice tax optimization. In general, the most important headquarters of Apple's operations, but also of Amazon, Starbucks and other large American companies is located in Ireland, a country with very accommodating taxes.
But here goes: Ireland is subject to European treaties. And in 2016, a decision by the CJEU asked Apple to reimburse 13 billion euros not received by Ireland, considering that it was disguised tax aid. Apple appealed and in 2020, the court overturned its decision.
New drama for Apple and its taxes in Europe
But this Thursday, a new section has just opened. Indeed, a lawyer now believes that the CJEU “committed several errors of law” in its 2020 decision. Which opens the way to a new judgment which this time risks #8217;to be definitely unfavorable to Apple. The Cupertino company will then have to repay 13 billion euros to Ireland, even if Ireland itself – who prefers its attractive status for these companies – would have done well.
The sequel is expected within six months, towards the end of the first half of 2024, therefore. For its part, Apple immediately reacted to better emphasize that“the Court’s decision was very clear, Apple did not receive any selective advantage or any state aid, and we believe that this should be confirmed”. But the outcome for the company is far from certain. Indeed, based on its interpretation, the firm only pays taxes on amounts generated in Ireland.
That is 577 million euros for the period between 2003 and 2014. However, by playing on payment providers, and the different entities involved in the sales process, Apple nevertheless seems to be resting more on its seat in Ireland to reduce its tax exposure in other markets in which the firm operates in Europe, including France. A situation denounced for years by various political actors who would like to put in place a sort of 'GAFA tax'. throughout the European Union.
The GAFA Tax being a text in force in France – which no longer targets, for reasons of fairness, only foreign American companies. Instead, this tax (3% on the profits of these firms in France) concerns 26 companies including the French Criteo. It is far from perfect: Amazon, Apple and Google have already said that they are now passing on the amount of this tax to their prices in France.
The GAFA tax is, however, destined to disappear when a system of European or even international taxation for these transnational firms is put in place. A horizon for now that is also very uncertain. Germany in particular is one of the states which are no longer very convinced by the project, fearing American retaliatory measures on its automobile industry.