Starbucks wins, Fiat loses in EU tax fights

The EU has so far failed to prove Starbucks benefited from tax breaks. (AFP)
Updated 25 September 2019

Starbucks wins, Fiat loses in EU tax fights

  • EU fails to show Starbucks benefited unfairly

LUXEMBOURG: Starbucks won its fight on Tuesday against an EU demand to pay up to €30 million ($33 million) in Dutch back taxes, while Fiat Chrysler Automobiles lost its challenge against an order to stump up a similar amount to Luxembourg.

Both cases were part of European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager’s crackdown on unlawful tax breaks offered by EU countries to multinationals, which has also extended to Apple’s Irish deal and Amazon’s Luxembourg deal, among others.

The judgments show that the General Court, Europe’s second-highest, generally endorses the European Commission’s methodology in its tax crackdown but stipulates the Commission must do its homework properly to prove its case — a bad omen for Apple fighting a record €13 billion Irish tax order.

It is an important victory for the Commission, said Dimitrios Kyriazis, head of Law at New College of the Humanities London.

“Regardless of the outcome of individual cases, the General Court seems to have sanctioned the Commission’s approach,” he said.

In Starbucks’ case, the EU competition enforcer failed to show the coffee chain benefited unfairly from the Dutch tax deal.

“The Commission was unable to demonstrate the existence of an advantage in favor of Starbucks,” judges said.

The Dutch Finance Ministry said the judgment showed it was treated the same as other companies.

Starbucks also welcomed the ruling, saying it had not received any special treatment from the Netherlands and that it “pays all of its taxes wherever they are due.”

In a separate ruling, the Court upheld the Commission’s decision against Fiat’s Luxembourg’s tax deal, saying that the Commission had applied its state aid rules correctly to assess if there was an illegal advantage and was not seeking to harmonize tax rules across the bloc.

It also agreed with the Commission’s finding that the Luxembourg tax ruling was a selective one, meaning that such rulings were not available to all companies.

The Commission said in 2015 Starbucks and Fiat Chrysler set prices for goods and services sold between subsidiaries, known as transfer prices, that were below market rates and which artificially lowered their taxes.

The losing side can appeal to the Court of Justice of the EU.

Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Ireland are among countries whose economies have benefited from attracting multinationals. They have amended their tax regimes in recent years following the EU tax drive.

The European Commission is currently investigating Ikea AB and Nike Inc’s Dutch deals and Huhtamaki Oyi’s Luxembourg tax ruling.


Expo 2020 Dubai: UAE begins one-year countdown with entertainment galore

Updated 20 October 2019

Expo 2020 Dubai: UAE begins one-year countdown with entertainment galore

  • Dubai prepares for eye-catching countdown on Burj Khalifa
  • Live performances from singer Mariah Carey and acclaimed Emirati singer and Expo 2020 ambassador Hussain Al-Jassmi

DUBAI: The seven emirates of the UAE is counting down to the Expo 2020 on Sunday with a number of simultaneous entertainment events across the country’s iconic landmarks, before it buckles down to business on Oct. 20 next year.

The event started with performances from Arab artists Khalifa, Shamma Hamdan, Abri and Funk Radius, Showcase and Jaysus Zain at the main stage. 

The main show will be at the Burj Park with global superstar Mariah Carey, joined by Emirati singer Hussain Al-Jassmi, who is also an official Expo 2020 ambassador. Bollywood actress Shraddah Kapoor will also be there, as the Burj Khalifa lights up for the count down.

The other six emirates are also marking the occasion with free-for-all activities in venues such as the Louvre Abu Dhabi, Al Majaz Waterfront in Sharjah, Ajman Museum, Umm Al Quwain Corniche, Al Qawasim Corniche in Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah Fort.

The events, Minister of State for International Cooperation and Expo 2020 Director-General Reem Al-Hashimy said, will “offer a window into the once-in-a-lifetime celebration that awaits from October 20, 2020.”

“The next 12 months will see us put the finishing touches to ensure an exceptional World Expo,” she added, in a report by state-run WAM.

The Louvre Abu Dhabi will feature YouTube sensation Sandra Sahi, as well as singers Stephon Lemar, Layla Kardan, the Emirati Trio.

Indian band ROOH, singer and pianist Clarita de Quiroz, Egyptian oud player Rami Zaki and other regional artists are celebrating the count down at Sharjah’s Al Marjaz waterfront.

While the Ajman Museum will host Arabic fusion band, pop-rock musician Hydyy, Emirati soul singer Chakram, poet Storm Fernandes, artist Humaira Hussain and MC Mohammed Enaba.