SAN FRANCISCO — The European Union ruling that Apple must pay $14.5 billion in what it says are unpaid back taxes could be just the start of protracted tax battles between the EU and multinationals, say tax experts.
“This is a harbinger,” says Thomas Cooke, a professor at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business. “There are many companies saying, ‘Are we next? And not just in Ireland?’ ”
Sweetheart tax deals lavished upon tech giants and other U.S.-based companies by Ireland and Luxembourg have drawn the scrutiny of Europe's top regulators, leading to rulings or probes against at least six large multinationals. More are likely.
Tech heavyweights Google, Microsoft and Facebook, all of whom enjoy highly favorable tax deals in Ireland, Luxembourg and elsewhere, are “absolutely on the radar of the EU,” says Brad Badertscher, professor of accountancy in the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business.
"This is a signal that this is not a tax haven," he says. "(The EU) is like secondary eyes looking over each government."
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