Ireland May Face More Delays in Collecting Apple Tax Billions

(Bloomberg) -- Ireland may not start collecting Apple Inc.’s tax billions until the second quarter of this year, the nation’s Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said, signaling another delay in a saga that has dragged on since 2016.

The government plans to choose custodians and investment managers for the estimated 13 billion euros ($15.9 billion) in back taxes Ireland has been ordered to collect from the iPhone maker by the end of March. Apple had been due to start paying an escrow account across the first quarter of 2018, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said last month.

Yet on Wednesday in Strasbourg Varadkar told EU lawmakers his government will “start collecting it in the second quarter of this year.”

Identifying the custodian and investment managers will “allow for the first lodgment into the escrow fund thereafter with payments continuing through the course of Q2 and Q3,” a finance ministry spokesman said in an email response to questions.

In an order that reverberated across the Atlantic, the European Commission in 2016 slapped Apple with a tax bill of as much as 13 billion euros, saying Ireland granted unfair deals that reduced the company’s effective corporate tax rate. The commission sued Ireland in October for failing to collect the taxes quickly enough. The final figure could be about 14 billion euros, including interest, Apple has said.

While Apple and Ireland appeal the EU decision, regulators had demanded that Ireland hold the money in escrow until the process is complete.

The European Commission has referred Ireland to the European Court of Justice for failing to recoup the Apple money quickly enough. The money, which was initially due by Jan. 3 2017, won’t be collected for another six months at least, the EU said in October.

European Union Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, who oversaw the investigation, is due to visit Dublin for public meetings on Friday.

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