Apple ‘to pay $348m’ to settle Italy tax fraud case

NEWYORK (TIP): Apple’s Italian subsidiary has agreed to pay $348m after the US tech giant was investigated for suspected fraud, the country’s tax agency said Tuesday, December 29.

The settlement follows an investigation by prosecutors in Milan.

The company’s Italian subsidiary and several of its senior executives had been under investigation for fraud over its alleged failure to comply with obligations to declare its earnings in Italy between 2008 and 2013, according to La Repubblica.

The US tech giant has not commented on the deal. It has previously denied attempting to escape paying tax owed on profits made around the world.

Apple Italia is part of the company’s European operation which is headquartered in Ireland, a country with one of the lowest levels of corporation tax in the EU.

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A spokesman for the tax agency confirmed the newspaper’s report was accurate but would not divulge further details.

Ireland taxes corporate earnings from normal business activities at a rate of 12.5% compared with 27.5% in Italy.

Investigators in Italy say they found a huge gap between the company’s revenues in Italy of over 1bn between 2008 and 2013 and the 30m that was paid in tax in the country.

The settlement comes amid a European Commission investigation into the tax arrangements of numerous multinational companies accused of using cross-border structures to reduce their tax bills, sometimes with the help of secret and potentially illegal “sweetheart” deals.

Earlier this month, Apple chief Tim Cook described accusations that the world’s richest company was sidestepping US taxes by stashing cash overseas as “political crap” and insisted: “We pay every tax dollar we owe.”

The settlement of the tax dispute will not halt the criminal investigation into the conduct of three Apple Italia executives but will likely reduce the severity of any sanctions they may face, La Repubblica said.

Apple’s activities in Ireland are currently under investigation by the European Commission, which is due to announce soon whether tax breaks designed to secure the company’s extensive investment in Ireland amounted to illegal state aid.

In the United States, Apple has come under fire in Congress for not declaring overseas earnings to the US tax authorities.

Cook has defended this as perfectly legal and sensible given that the company would be liable for 40% taxation if it repatriated all its earnings to the United States.

“We have a tax code made for the Industrial Age, not the Digital Age,” he complained in November.

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