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BACKGROUND Apple, Amazon, McDonald's: The EU's major tax-dodging cases

By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Brussels (dpa) - The European Commission launched a probe Monday into tax benefits Ikea was granted by the Netherlands, citing concerns that they may give the furniture giant an illegal advantage.

Below are six other high-profile cases in which the European Union‘s competition watchdog decided to crack down on member states accused of offering tax advantages to multinational companies.


The commission decided in August 2016 that Ireland‘s tax benefits to US tech giant Apple were illegal under EU state aid rules because they allowed the company to pay substantially less in taxes than other businesses.

The EU called on Ireland to recover up to 13 billion euros (15.3 billion dollars) in back taxes by January 2017. In October, the commission decided to take Ireland to the European Court of Justice over its failure to recoup the money. Ireland has since said it will collect the funds, while challenging the commission‘s initial decision.


In October of this year, the commission found that Luxembourg had granted illegal tax benefits to the US online retail giant Amazon, ordering the grand duchy to recoup around 250 million euros in back taxes.

Under a special tax structure implemented between 2006 and 2014, most European profits of Amazon were recorded in Luxembourg, but not taxed there, the EU‘s executive found.


In January 2016, the commission ordered Belgium to recoup 700 million euros in unpaid taxed from at least 35 international companies. The Belgian scheme allowed corporations to reduce their tax liability by deducting "excess profits" - accrued as a result of belonging to a multinational group - from their taxable profits.


The commission decided in October 2015 that Luxembourg needed to collect 20 million to 30 million euros from the financing arm of Italian carmaker Fiat.

The EU said the activities of the Luxembourg-based Fiat Finance and Trade were akin to a bank, but a tax ruling by the country allowed "an artificial and extremely complex methodology" to be used for calculating taxes.


An investigation was opened into tax scheme by Luxembourg for US food giant McDonald‘s in December 2015.

The probe, which is ongoing, focuses on tax rulings by Luxembourg that exempted McDonald‘s from paying any corporate taxes on profits made from franchise royalties in Europe and Russia.


In a decision in October 2015, the commission called on the Netherlands to recover 20 million to 30 million euros from US coffee retailer Starbucks. The commission said that a 2008 Dutch tax ruling gave selective advantage by artificially lowering the company‘s taxes.


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