DUBLIN (Reuters) - Apple’s chief executive said a looming European Union tax ruling on its dealings with Ireland would not affect its presence in the country where it declares much of its overseas profit and where it added 1,000 new jobs on Wednesday.
The EU last year accused Ireland of swerving international tax rules by letting Apple shelter profits worth tens of billions of dollars from revenue collectors in return for maintaining jobs.
A decision on whether the tax deal with Apple constituted unfair state aid is due after Christmas, Finance Minister Michael Noonan told journalists on Wednesday. It could force Apple to pay substantial back taxes.
“You can tell by our announcement today, we’re all in,” Chief Executive Tim Cook told Irish national broadcaster RTE in an interview when asked if it would scale back its Irish operations if EU regulators ruled against it.
“If there is an adverse ruling, we’re going to appeal, Ireland is going to appeal and we’re going to support them because there was no special deal, no special arrangement.”
“I can’t say for sure what they’ll come back with but what I do know for sure is if the evidence is viewed on a fair basis, I believe strongly that it will be found that there is nothing wrong done.”
Apple will add the 1,000 jobs by mid-2017, meaning that at 6,000 workers, about a quarter of its European-based staff will work in Ireland’s second city of Cork, where it is the largest private sector employer. Almost one in 10 workers in Ireland are employed by foreign firms such as Apple.
Noonan said the new jobs showed that the controversy around Apple’s tax deal “hasn’t affected their enthusiasm for Ireland.”
Having expressed confidence in the past that Ireland would be cleared of any wrongdoing, Noonan added that he did “not have a straight read” of what the ruling would be and did not want to be seen as prejudicing the decision.
The European Commission has already ordered Dutch authorities to recover up to 30 million euros ($32.23 million)from U.S. coffee chain Starbucks and Luxembourg to do the same with Fiat Chrysler for their tax deals.
Apple paid an average tax rate of just 2.5 percent on around $109 billion of non-U.S. profits in the five years to 2014, a fraction of Ireland’s 12.5 percent tax rate.
Cook told RTE that Apple has paid the 12.5 percent rate on all the income that it generates in Ireland.
Editing by Jason Neely and David Evans