The long-running investigation into the legality of Apple’s tax arrangements in Ireland has been expanded, with the European Commission now seeking additional information from the Irish government, reports the FT. This means that the investigation is likely to be extended well into next year. A ruling had originally been expected before the end of the year.

While Irish authorities had expected the case to be concluded soon, they have instead been sent bulky sets of supplementary questions, meaning it will be difficult to reach a final verdict until after the 2016 election, which is expected as early as February […]

The Irish finance ministry confirmed that the government was supplying the requested additional information to the commission. “We do not expect any decision until after the new year,” said a spokesman.

If the ruling goes against Apple, it could face a bill for billions of Euros in underpaid tax …

Ireland was keen to encourage Apple to base its European operations in the country, and offered a special deal to the company. Instead of paying the normal 12.5% corporation tax, Apple would pay just 2.5%.

It should be noted that if the arrangements were found to be illegal, it would be the Irish government, and not Apple, found to have broken the law – by offering illegal state support to a business. Apple would, however, have to pay the back taxes accrued over up to ten years. The company warned shareholders of this fact back in April.

Similar arrangements with Starbucks and Fiat in Luxembourg and the Netherlands have already been ruled illegal.

Some had wondered whether Apple would maintain its presence in Ireland if the ruling went against it, but it was announced during a recent visit by Tim Cook (where a slip of the tongue caused some controversy) that Apple would be adding a further 1,000 jobs by mid-2017.

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Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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