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Europe gathers to tackle tax avoidance

Posting in Government

European Union leaders have gathered today for a meeting to discuss tax avoidance and the public response to tech giant Apple using Ireland to avoid hefty tax bills.

Apple CEO Tim Cook testified this week in front of Congress in order to explain why the iPad and iPhone maker pays little tax to the U.S., despite being one of the country's largest firms. Cook maintained that while the U.S. insists on taxing transferred funds by 35 percent, the company has no plans to bring profits home.

However, Senate investigators found that Apple managed to reduce its tax bill by recording most of its profit through Ireland, a European member state, due to a past negotiation with the Irish government which allowed the firm to pay only two percent in tax.

Apple is not the only company under scrutiny. Google, Amazon and Starbucks have recently made the headlines after the extremely low rates of capital tax the companies pay in the U.K. was exposed.

Typical corporate tactics employed include creating formal bases in countries with low tax rates, and then operating subsidiaries in regions with higher rates -- such as the U.K. and United States.

The Commission estimates tax losses due to these tactics at around $1.3 trillion.

The European leaders are expected to also discuss the Syrian situation and whether the bloc requires common standards to successfully exploit shale gas resources.

Read More: The New York Times

— By on May 22, 2013, 8:14 AM PST

Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure