When European officials ordered Ireland to collect a record $14.5 billion in back taxes from Apple, Kieran O’Connell drew up a wish list for spending the money.
A public social worker who deals with at-risk youth, Mr. O’Connell has faced drastic cuts since the Irish government imposed austerity measures six years ago during a financial crisis. His salary was frozen and his pension taxed. With his agency’s budget shrunk 30 percent, he hasn’t been able to replace staff, keep up with the demand for addiction and retraining programs or accommodate all the homeless teenagers looking for shelter.
“You could invest it in treatment centers, detox beds and community care,” said Mr. O’Connell, 50, who works in this southern Irish city, where Apple has had its European headquarters for more than 35 years.
But Ireland doesn’t want Apple’s billions. Instead, the Irish government is appealing Europe’s tax ruling, a move that is exposing a rift in a country still feeling the aftershocks from years of harsh cutbacks.
The Irish government’s defense is a mixture of financial realpolitik, national pride and damage limitation. The European Union’s decision takes direct aim at some of the country’s generous tax policies, calling them illegal incentives in Apple’s case.
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This is one of the chief problems of the global economy. Corporations buy low, sell high, and take advantage of "generous tax policies" to pay back as little as possible. If this causes nations to have little or no tax revenue, how can they pay for the social services of their citizens?
Realistically they cannot, and that spells financial doom for those nations and/or their social service programs.
Once again, how do we survive when robots take all our jobs and corporations keep all the money? This is the question we all should be asking, but which everyone is dodging.