Apple’s lack of lobbying presence in Europe left in largely in the dark about the long-running investigation into its Irish tax arrangements, argues the WSJ. It has been ruled that Apple underpaid tax in Europe to the tune of €13B ($15B).
The iPhone maker spent less than €900,000 ($1M) in 2015 to lobby the EU institutions and doesn’t employ any full-time lobbyists here [and] was unsuccessful in gathering information over the last two years from the commission about the evolving theory the EU was resting its case on, said people familiar with the matter.
The piece contrasts this with Google, which spent ‘at least’ €4.25M ($4.8M) in the same timeframe. Google says that the money has been spent trying to help Brussels understand what the company does and how it works.
European politicians have many questions for Google and about the internet [and] we’re working hard to answer those questions.
However, others are skeptical that a lobbying effort would have made any difference. A source close to the EC said that in the end it just comes down to the facts, and others agreed.
People familiar with the directorate say there is limited leeway for influencing the outcome of any competition investigation. The regulator can’t stray too far from previous case law in its decisions to ensure the ruling is upheld in court when the companies inevitably appeal it.
It’s notable, too, that Google has been the subject of both antitrust and tax investigations in Europe, despite its lobbying efforts.
We are still awaiting publication of the report detailing the basis for the €14B tax claim, likely delayed as Apple is given the opportunity to redact commercially-sensitive information. So far we’ve been hearing very different perspectives on different sides of the debate, with tax advisors describing Apple’s tax deal as ‘brazen‘ and Tim Cook calling it ‘political crap.’ There is a noticeable split between European and US viewpoints.