Ireland has denied its liberal tax laws helped Apple avoid dropping dollars into the American taxpayers' purse by funnelling billions through subsidiaries based in the country.
Eamon Gilmore, Ireland's Tánaiste (deputy prime minister), said that Apple's legal tax-dodging was down to rules in other countries.
A US Senate committee examining Apple's tax affairs found that its main European office, based in Cork, received $29.9bn in dividends, amounting to about 30 per cent of the fruity firm's worldwide net profits.
Speaking from Brussels, where he is attending a European conference aimed at tackling tax fraud and eliminating havens, Gilmore said: "They are not issues that arise from the Irish taxation system.
"They are issues that arise from the taxation systems in other jurisdictions and that is an issue that has to be addressed first of all in those jurisdictions," he added.
One of Apple's Irish subsidiaries paid a piddling 0.05 per cent in tax in 2011 on total revenue of $22bn. It is claimed Apple's tax-efficient tentacles are taking advantage of tax residency rules to minimise their total liabilities.
Speaking to the Guardian, one Senate source said they were "iCompanies – 'I' for imaginary, invisible".
Senator Carl Levin said: "Apple wasn't satisfied with shifting its profits to a low-tax offshore tax haven... Apple sought the holy grail of tax avoidance. It has created offshore entities holding tens of billions of dollars while claiming to be tax resident nowhere."
Sharon Bowles, a Liberal Democrat MEP and chair of the European Parliament's economic and monetary affairs committee, added: "It is totally unacceptable that corporate tax avoidance is now the norm in Europe, aided and abetted by aggressive tax planning and tax consultancy firms.
"The European Parliament vote today sends a strong signal to Europe's Finance Ministers, ahead of the EU Summit tomorrow, that the time has come to clamp down on tax evasion and tax havens once and for all," Bowles added.
In a statement released yesterday, Apple said it did not use any "tax gimmicks".
Several web advertising giants, like Google and Facebook, are based in Ireland, where they take advantage of a rock-bottom corporation tax rate of 12.5 per cent. In contrast, Blighty's corporation tax rate is almost double that of Ireland's, at 23 per cent, while the US relieves companies of a swingeing 35 cents on the dollar. ®