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|BRUSSELS Ondrej Kase Jersey , Oct. 21 (Xinhua) -- The sweetheart tax deals struck by Starbucks and Fiat with European nations were ruled illegal, the European Commission announced on Wednesday, demanding each to repay up to 30 millions euros (34 million U.S. dollars) in back taxes.
The decision came after 15-month in-depth investigations launched by the commission, the executive branch of the European Union (EU), which concluded that Starbucks' coffee roasting company in the Netherlands and Fiat's financing subsidiary in Luxembourg were granted "selective tax advantages" by local authorities.
EU member states including Luxembourg and the Netherlands have competed to lure multinationals to open subsidiaries on the ground and promised them with tax breaks.
Dutch and Luxembourg tax policies have for years helped Starbucks and Fiat reduce tax by a total of between 20 and 30 million euros respectively Adam Henrique Jersey , said the commission in a statement.
"Tax rulings as such are perfectly legal," the commission said. Starbucks and Fiat were given tax assurance, or "comfort letters" by Dutch and Luxembourg government. The comfort letters gave companies clarity on how their corporate taxes would be calculated or on the use of special tax provisions.
"However, the two tax rulings under investigation endorsed artificial and complex methods to establish taxable profits for the companies," the Commission concluded. "They do not reflect economic reality."
Starbucks Manufacturing in the Netherlands Ryan Kesler Ducks Jersey , Starbucks group's only coffee roasting company in Europe, has benefited from undue tax advantages since 2008, which resulting in substantially-reduced taxable profits.
Fiat Finance and Trade, Fiat's internal lucrative financing subsidiary in Luxembourg, has also unduly reduced the company's tax burden around 20 and 30 million euros over the past three years.
Last year Ryan Getzlaf Ducks Jersey , Fiat Finance and Trade paid "not even 0.4 million euros" in corporate tax and Starbucks Manufacturing paid "not even 0.6 million euros."
As a result, the commission ordered Luxembourg and the Netherlands "must now" recover the unpaid tax from Fiat and Starbucks. That means each of the two companies has to repay 20 to 30 million euros in back taxes.
Margrethe Vestager, EU's antitrust commissioner, said the commission's decision aimed to send out a clear message that "national tax authorities cannot give any company, however large or powerful Andrew Cogliano Ducks Jersey , an unfair competitive advantage compared to others."
"All companies, big or small, multinational or not, should pay their fair share of tax," she told a news briefing in Brussels. "Tax rulings that artificially reduce a company's tax burden are not in line with EU state aid rules. They are illegal."
Brussels signaled that more cases were expected to be explored as a series of investigations have been operated in several EU countries. Apple in Ireland and Amazon in Luxembourg are also suspected to benefit from unlawful state aid.
"We do not stop here Cam Fowler Ducks Jersey ," Vestager warned. "More cases may come, if we have indications that EU state aid rules are not being complied with."
Luxembourg later denied it violated EU regulations. "Luxembourg disagrees with the conclusions reached by the European Commission in the Fiat Finance and Trade case and reserves all its rights," Finance Minister Pierre Gramegna tweeted.
The Dutch government also argued that the Netherlands is convinced that "actual international standard are applied."
Fiat echoed with denying receiving any aid from Luxembourg while Starbucks immediately responded that it planned to appeal against the commission's decision, claiming it contained "significant errors." (1 euro = 1.135 U.S. dollars)
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