Apple has agreed to pay €318 million ($348 million) to settle an investigation into suspected tax fraud by the company in Italy. According to a report from Italian newspaper La Repubblica, the iPhone maker was under investigation for allegedly failing to declare earnings in Italy between 2008 and 2013. La Repubblica claims that Apple's Italian subsidiary, Apple Italia, should have paid approximately €880 million in corporation tax over that period but instead paid just €30 million.
The probe alleges that Apple avoids tax in Italy by booking its sales in the country through Ireland where its European operations are headquartered. Ireland has one of the lowest rates of corporation tax in the EU — just 12.5 percent compared to Italy's 27.5 percent — and is often a factor in US companies' more controversial tax arrangements. (The country is currently in the process of closing its infamous "double Irish" tax loophole, but this process will take years.) Apple has yet to comment on the payment to Italy's tax agency, but according to a report from Reuters, while a judicial probe into the company (including three Apple managers) will continue, the settlement will "likely have a positive impact" on the company's case.
Apple itself has always maintained that it follows the law and, like other companies accused of avoiding taxation, has a tendency to shift the blame onto politicians for failing to introduce fairer systems. In a recent interview with 60 Minutes' Charlie Rose, Apple CEO Tim Cook described claims that the company was avoiding paying tax in the US on earnings overseas as "total political crap." "There's no truth behind it," Cook told Rose. "Apple pays every tax dollar we owe."