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Google Apple Tax

The US treasury claims US companies are ‘unfairly’ targeted by European tax investigators


By Seb Joseph, News editor

January 30, 2016 | 2 min read

Apple, Amazon, McDonald’s and Starbucks are being unfairly targeted by European tax investigators crackdown on fiscal deals, according to a senior US tax official in charge of international policy.

Robert Slack, deputy assistant secretary for international tax affairs at the US Treasury, blasted EU regulators following recent meetings with them to discuss whether the firms in question are paying enough tax. He thinks there’s a crusade against US companies that’s pushing the investigation to focus disproportionately on those American companies alleged to be exploiting tax loopholes.

The FT reported that Slack said the US Treasury is concerned that the "EU commission appears to be disproportionately targeting US companies,” before questioning the “basic fairness” of the ongoing investigation into the billions of tax revenues that they believe American companies have avoided by agreeing so-called “sweetheart” deals with certain EU companies.

He went on to claim that the EU Commission is “in effect, telling member states how they should have applied their own tax laws over a 10-year period”.

Apple chief executive Tim Cook has dismissed allegations that his company does not pay a fair amount of tax as “political crap”. Like some of its peers, Apple has exploited low tax regimes across Europe to amass huge cash reserves. Apple announced this week it now ha $205bn in cash.

Slack’s criticism comes as the European Commission weighs up an investigation into whether Google has been given special treatment over taxes by the UK government following its £130m tax deal with parent company Alphabet. There are also inquiries into Apple, Amazon, McDonald’s and Starbucks' similar deals, though EU investigators have assured their search isn’t just focused on American companies. Earlier this month, an inquiry into Belgian deals with many European businesses was also launched.

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