France and Germany working to plug tax loopholes for companies like Apple

France is working with Germany and other partners to plug loopholes that have allowed U.S. tech giants like Apple to minimize taxes and grab market share in Europe at the expense of the continent’s own companies, reports Bloomberg.

France will propose the “simpler rules” for a “real taxation” of tech firms at a meeting of European Union officials due mid-September in Tallinn, Estonia, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said in an interview in his Paris office, adding that Europe-wide initiatives are proving too slow.

“Europe must learn to defend its economic interest much more firmly -- China does it, the U.S. does it,” Le Maire said. “You cannot take the benefit of doing business in France or in Europe without paying the taxes that other companies -- French or European companies -- are paying.”

Speaking of Europe, the European Commission, Europe’s anti-trust and consumer investigation agency argues that Ireland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands have attracted investment and jobs by helping big companies avoid tax in other countries, including EU members. The commission claims Ireland was too lenient in rulings it gave to Apple and which helped the company shield tens of billions of dollars in profit from taxation. 

At 12.5%, Ireland’s corporate tax rate beats the U.S. rate of 35%. However, participating companies don’t pay that 12.5% under the double Irish structure. Ireland's cabinet has agreed to join Apple in appealing against a €13 billion (about $14.5 billion) back tax demand that the European Commission has levied.