Tomorrow’s Ninth Circuit Oral Argument in Altera

By: Leandra Lederman

Susan Morse and Stephen Shay have blogged today on Procedurally Taxing about the Ninth’s Circuit oral argument tomorrow in Altera Corp. v. Commissioner, as has Dan Shaviro on his blog, Start Making SenseAltera is the transfer pricing and administrative law case involving the Treasury’s cost-sharing agreement regulation. The Tax Court invalidated the regulation under the Administrative Procedure Act, as arbitrary and capricious. That is because the Tax Court accepted the taxpayer’s argument that it need not share stock-based compensation costs under a qualified cost-sharing agreement because arm’s length parties would not do so. The Tax Court found that Treasury had inadequately addressed evidence in the notice-and-comment process that parties not under common control did not share stock-based compensation costs, although Treasury explained in the Preamble to the regulation that cost-sharing agreements between uncontrolled parties are not sufficiently comparable to those in controlled-party transactions.

Altera raises an important administrative law question about what is required of Treasury for its regulations to be valid. Susie and Steve spearheaded an amicus brief in the Ninth Circuit in favor of the Commissioner, in which I joined, along with Dick Harvey, Ruth Mason, and Bret Wells. An amicus brief prepared by another group of professors also supports the Commissioner. There are also amicus briefs by business groups on the other side. See Susie and Steve’s blog post for more detail. And for prior coverage on the Surly Subgroup, see this post on our amicus brief, explaining why the Ninth Circuit should reverse the Tax Court’s decision invalidating the regulation.

Apple, Ireland, and State Aid: The EC Decision

By: Sam Brunson

In August, the European Commission announced that Ireland had illegally granted state aid to Apple, and that it would be required to recoup over $13 billion in back taxes from Apple. (Surly coverage here.)

All of the analysis at the time was tentative, though, because, before it could release its decision, the EC had to redact it. And on Monday, it released the redacted version.[fn1] All 130 pages of the redacted version. So now we get to dig into its content.  Continue reading “Apple, Ireland, and State Aid: The EC Decision”

Ireland, Apple, and State Aid

EUMaybe you heard: Apple owes up to €13 billion in back taxes, plus interest, to Ireland. And maybe you also heard that Ireland doesn’t want Apple to pay. So what’s up?

appleFirst a caveat: I don’t have any particular expertise in European Union law, so I’m going off of news reports[fn1] and the European Commission’s press release. (As of when I’m writing this on Tuesday afternoon, the actual opinion isn’t up on the EC’s website. I’ll add a link when it’s available.)

In short: members of the EU can establish their own tax systems; the EU doesn’t have any authority over those systems. Over the last two years or so, though, the EC has been looking at special tax deals member countries have been giving to companies; where it finds that a country has provided special tax treatment to one particular company (and not granted similar tax treatment to other companies), it has held that the country provided “state aid” to that company. The EU treaty prohibits state aid and, when a member country provides such aid, the EC can require that country to recover the taxes it should have collected from the company in question. Though this Apple ruling is the most recent, last year the EC determined that Luxembourg and the Netherlands had used tax rulings to provide state aid to Fiat and Starbucks, and it is still looking into tax rulings provided by Luxembourg to McDonald’s and Amazon. Continue reading “Ireland, Apple, and State Aid”