The European Commission is set to formally accuse Apple of funneling billions into an illegal Irish tax shelter—possibility setting up the world's largest corporation for "a record fine of as much as several billions of euros," according to the Financial Times.
The allegation of special treatment comes as the EC concludes their summer-long investigation into Apple's tax deals with Ireland. Regulators found that company secured special deals with Irish officials in exchange for investment in the country, describing the situation as "'aggressive' multinational tax avoidance."
Legal curbs on state aid to companies are unique to the EU and Brussels has far-reaching powers to recover illegal support stretching back 10 years. While the commission has not yet made a precise calculation of improper support, it is expected to reach billions of euros.
The accusation that Apple rode to riches totalling $137.7bn in offshore cash with the help of the Irish taxpayer will come as a blow to a company that has striven to burnish its image of corporate social responsibility in recent years.
Apple has long prided itself and its products as being "Designed in California." However, the American company began using Irish tax shelters back in 1980, allowing Apple to horde their early profits tax-free. Apple cut a new agreement with the country in 1991, and then another one in 2007. Now the Cupertino corporation pays less than 2 percent on its Irish profits, reportedly saving Apple $74 billion between 2010 and 2013.
"There's never been any special deal," Maestri said. "There's never been anything that would be construed as state aid."