EU Seen to Find Apple, Fiat Tax Deals Were Illegal

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European Union regulators will publish as soon as Monday their preliminary view that tax practices granted to Apple Inc. and Fiat SpA violated EU law, people familiar with the matter said, marking the next formal step in the bloc’s drive against alleged tax avoidance by multinationals.

The European Commission, the EU’s central antitrust authority, opened formal investigations in June into whether tax deals granted to Apple AAPL, +2.94% in Ireland, Fiat’s F, +0.99% finance arm in Luxembourg and Starbucks Corp. SBUX, +1.42% in the Netherlands amounted to illegal state support for the companies.

The commission will publish its so-called opening decision in the Apple case as soon as Monday, explaining why it reached the preliminary view that two tax deals agreed between the U.S. company and the Irish government — in 1991 and 2007 — amounted to illegal state aid, a person familiar with the matter said.

Apple will have 30 days to respond to the EU’s decision, the person said.

The commission will also publish its opening decision on tax deals struck by Fiat in Luxembourg, another person familiar with the matter said. Fiat declined to comment. The status of the decision on Starbucks, which didn’t respond to requests for comment, was unclear.

This week’s expected moves are a formal step aimed at giving interested third parties — such as Apple and Fiat, which aren’t themselves under investigation — a chance to comment, said Martina Maier, an antitrust lawyer with McDermott Will & Emery in Brussels.

Source: MarketWatch