Apple’s EU Bill Creeps Up as Analyst Sees $1.6 Billion Interest

  • EU told Irish to claw back about $13.9 billion plus interest
  • Ireland and Apple fighting EU decision on Irish tax arrears

Apple Inc.’s bill for unpaid taxes in Ireland is creeping upwards, as authorities try to figure out exactly how much the world’s richest company owes.

European Union competition watchdogs ordered Ireland to claw back a record 13 billion euros ($13.9 billion) plus interest in unpaid taxes from the iPhone maker last August, covering the years 2003 to 2014. Apple and Ireland have appealed the EU’s Aug. 30 decision.

In a worst-case scenario, the interest payment could ultimately approach 1.5 billion euros, bringing the total bill close to 14.5 billion euros, according to estimates by Matt Larson, a Bloomberg Intelligence technology analyst.

“Luckily for Apple,” the bill could have been more costly had interest rates not “dropped significantly just as Apple’s revenue skyrocketed,” he said. “This inverse correlation between interest rates and Apple’s taxable profits in Ireland could prevent the ultimate tax bill from ballooning too far out of control,” Larson said. “Although the European Commission arrived at 13 billion euros, it’s up to Ireland to run the final tab.”

While the Jan. 3 deadline for payment passed without the money arriving, the Irish finance ministry said the EU regulator is satisfied with progress.

The European Commission is in contact with the Irish authorities, according to spokesman Ricardo Cardoso.

Apple referred Bloomberg to its annual report, where it said that “once the recovery amount is computed by Ireland, the company anticipates funding it, including interest, out of foreign cash into escrow, pending conclusion of all appeals.”

In a Dec. 19 statement, Apple said the commission “took unilateral action” and that if the EU decision was upheld it “would pay 40 percent of all the corporate income tax collected in Ireland, which is unprecedented and, far from leveling the playing field, selectively targets Apple.”

It took Dutch authorities 9 months to claw back cash from Starbucks Corp. The EU decided in 2015 that the coffee chain gained an unfair advantage from its tax arrangements with the Netherlands in violation of the bloc’s state aid rules.

— With assistance by Alex Webb

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