EU investigating Luxembourg over company tax deals
(CS) The European Commission is investigating Luxembourg, Ireland and the Netherlands over corporate tax deals, the commission's competition authorities have confirmed.
On Thursday, a spokesman for commissioner Joaquín Almunia said that the commission is collecting information from the Grand Duchy, Ireland and the Netherlands, with additional countries possibly set to be examined.
The commission intends to investigate whether multinationals were granted selective advantages. However, competition authorities have not yet opened a formal investigation into state aid.
The EC's competition authorities ensure that state aid for businesses does not distort free competition in the EU. Should a country be found to have offered illegal state aid, this has to be paid back.
The announcement on Thursday came after a Financial Times report had revealed that Apple and Starbucks were among the companies that the commission has requested information on.
Over the past months there has been increasing pressure from countries such as the US and the UK to crack down on tax avoidance by multinationals, including Google, Yahoo and Amazon.
In an official statement released on its website, the Luxembourg Finance Ministry commented:
"Please note that Luxembourg receives requests on tax issues from the European Commission on a regular basis but is not aware of a formal EU state aid inquiry.
"There has been no questioning about Luxembourg tax relationship with a specific company.
"Luxembourg supports fair taxation based on international rules and European Court of Justice jurisprudence. Double exemption and double taxation should be condemned equally. Companies must pay tax but Luxembourg is calling for 'effective' taxation."