Amazon and Apple hit by European Union tax crackdown

EU orders Amazon to pay Luxembourg tax bill

Last year, the European Commission established that Ireland violated EU law on competition by giving Apple "undue tax benefits of up to €13 billion".

In a ruling that echoes the Apple one of past year, European competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager has told Amazon that it has to pay around €250 million ($290 million) in back taxes.

In June, the European Union hit Google with a record fine of 2.4 billion euros ($2.7 billion) for skewing search results in favour of its own shopping service.

"Luxembourg gave illegal tax benefits to Amazon".

The issue is complicated by the fact that Ireland doesn't actually want Apple to pay the money, since it might discourage other multinationals from setting up shop there.

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It said that until the illegal aid is recovered, Apple is benefitting from an "illegal advantage, which is why recovery must happen as quickly as possible".

Brussels on Wednesday ordered Amazon to pay 250 million euros in back taxes linked to an "illegal tax break" that Luxembourg granted the internet shopping giant.

Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said "Ireland has to recover up to €13 billion in illegal state aid from Apple".

Meanwhile, the Commission said it planned to take Ireland to court over its failure to collect €13bn of back taxes from Apple. "But member states need to make sufficient progress to restore competition", she added.

The decision follows a three-year long investigation by the European Commission. "That is why we have today chose to refer Ireland to the EU Court for failing to implement our decision".

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"That is why it is extremely disappointing that the commission has taken action at this time against Ireland".

Ireland, which has contested the decision, claiming that European Union regulators were interfering with national sovereignty, said the decision was "extremely disappointing".

The tax deal between Luxembourg and Amazon was struck in 2003.

In a historic case in March 2013, the European Commission fined United States giant Microsoft 561 million euros ($638 million) for failing to comply with an order to provide clients with a choice of internet browsers for Windows 7, as it had promised to do.

The Commission said it had enabled Amazon to shift the "vast majority" of its profits from Amazon EU to Amazon Europe Holding Technologies, which was not subject to tax.

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