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What could Apple’s €13 billion in back taxes buy in Ireland?

Pint of Guinness next to more glasses
Five pints of Guinness for everyone in the EU.
By Eshe Nelson
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

The European Commission ruled today that Apple owes Ireland €13 billion ($14.5 billion) in back taxes covering a 10-year period. It says the tax deals Ireland granted Apple count as illegal “state aid,” and calculates that it brought the company’s effective corporate tax rate down to just 0.005% in 2014. Ireland insists the deal was legal, and plans to appeal. The government has already spent €670,000 battling Europe on the case.

But what would Ireland be able to buy if it keeps that €13 billion? Quite a lot.

  • 6% of its government debt
  • One-and-a-half times the nation’s education budget
  • 13 times its defense budget
  • Roughly 500-700km (310-430 miles) of high-speed rail, based on current projects in France (pdf, p.7)
  • 20 million iPhone 6’s from the Irish Apple store (more than four for every person in Ireland)
  • Enough to send every Irish teenager to Cambridge University for three years and have some change

This doesn’t even cover the extra €6 billion in interest Apple may also have to pay, according to Grant Thornton. Ireland has said that it’s legally bound to start collecting the money but will put it in escrow until the appeals process is concluded.

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