The Government can not use the more than €14 billion in disputed taxes it has collected from Apple pending a European court appeal to boost the economy in the fight against coronavirus, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said today.
Apple is one of the country's largest multinational employers with 6,000 workers and both it and the Government have gone to court to fight a European Union order that the iPhone maker must pay the back taxes to Dublin.
Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald had suggested over the weekend that the state could reach "right this minute" into the escrow account where the funds are being held to pay for further income supports for workers.
"Mary Lou McDonald should know better, the Apple money is in an escrow account and that is where it is being held until the European Commission decides where that money is going to go," Mr Varadkar told reporters.
"The European courts will decide whether that money either belongs to Apple or comes to the Irish revenue commissioners and then has to be distributed out among the countries of Europe. It's not ours to take and it's now before the courts," he said.
With the legal challenge expected to run for years, the National Treasury Management Agency has invested the disputed taxes in low risk, highly rated euro-dominated bonds, mainly short to medium-term sovereign securities.
The Government will introduce a significant financial package this week for those who have lost their jobs due to coronavirus-related disruption and others at risk of becoming unemployed, Tánaiste Simon Coveney said yesterday.
The Government has said it can push the public finances back into deficit to fund the measures, as well as tapping its €1.5 billion "rainy day" reserve fund and the €4 billion surplus that NAMA will begin turning over to the state this year from a decade-long sale of property loans.