Thirteen Billion reasons why

Just for one second we’ll cut through the noise and break this down in layman’s terms; Ireland is being brought to court for failing to collect €13 billion in taxes from Apple. That’s billion with a ‘b’. We are living in a country where our government has to be forced by law to collect a substantial amount in taxes owed to us.

So what exactly is going on? It can’t be so simple and straight forward, surely there’s a logical reason behind all this? Well in reality, there’s not. Essentially, over the last decade the Irish government have given Apple an unfair tax advantage. While everybody else has to pay their dues, Apple have been allowed to pay less in taxes – so much less that this number has accumulated to €13 billion.

This is actually closer to €15 billion when you include interest but sure what’s an extra €2 billion to a country rich enough to refuse 13?

‘Sure we’ll let ya off, you’re sound anyways for coming here’ is what I can imagine was told to them when they set up camp here.

Over a year after the European Commission ruled that Ireland has to collect the owed taxes we still haven’t, but why is this? The most ‘reasonable’ reason is to not scare Apple or other multinational companies out of Ireland. In defence of Apple, they employ close to 6,000 people here. This in itself has a massive effect on not only our economy but to the everyday lives of those employees.

Also, both Apple and the Irish government argue that since their products are designed, engineered and created in the US the majority of profits belong there. An interesting argument, but if that’s the case then they shouldn’t be running things out of Ireland or anywhere else other than the US.

Can we also discuss what we could do with €13 billion? A sum that large is quite obviously a game changer. With that money we could invest in areas that really need the support. We all know that our healthcare system could always do with an extra euro or two here and there, not to mention the possibilities when it comes to mental health (an area on which we could most definitely improve on). We could lower third level fees for students with a plan to abolish them completely. We could combat homelessness on an unprecedented scale and put systems in place to not only give people a roof over their heads but a hand to get up on their own two feet. I can understand that the government doesn’t want to lose such a company like Apple, but if we had that €13 billion we could invest, say, €7 billion in start-ups and nourishing our own entrepreneurs to potentially create business akin to Apple.

I’m not an economist by any means and you can guarantee that the process of receiving the €13 billion is long, complicated and riddled with red tape. It wouldn’t be as simple as throwing Apple your IBAN number and definitely not as simple as allocating a billion here and a billion there. But the point of this piece is to highlight the fact that we have the opportunity to take this money owed to us and use it for something positive.

Cathal McCahey