Ryanair will “vigorously defend” claims of tax avoidance made by an Italian magistrate.
The investigation probe concerns allegations that the budget airline hired 220 staff at Bergamo airport near Milan while putting them on the books in Dublin, where tax rates are lower.
But Ryanair said: “Under new rules introduced in June 2012, new Ryanair recruits will in future pay their social taxes in the country where they start and end their working day, and accordingly will no longer pay social taxes in Ireland.
“Existing employees will continue, under grandfather rules, to correctly pay their taxes and social taxes in Ireland which fully complies with EU legislation.”
The carrier confirmed that “it has complied, and continues to comply, with Irish and EU tax legislation in respect of its pilots and cabin crew, who are covered by EU regulations applicable to mobile transport workers in respect of their employment, which takes place on Irish registered aircraft (which is defined under EU rules as Irish territory).
“All Ryanair’s pilots and cabin crew operate on Irish aircraft and fully comply with EU tax payments and rules”.
The airline was responding to reports that chief executive Michael O’Leary and legal affairs director Juliusz Komorek face an investigation by an Italian prosecutor for alleged tax evasion.
Magistrate Maria Mocciaro gave the airline 90 days to settle an estimated loss to the Italian state of €12 million in taxes, according to reports in Italy’s Corriere della Sera newspaper.
A Ryanair spokesman said: “Since Ryanair, and our people who fly Irish aircraft to/from Italy, are fully compliant with EU legislation governing income taxes and social taxes, the claims of ‘social tax avoidance’ made by the Bergamo prosecutor’s office are untrue and will be vigorously defended
“Similar actions against Ryanair in Belgium, Germany and Spain have been all unsuccessful with the courts ruling that Irish jurisdiction applied to Ryanair and its crews.
“The Italian authorities must respect these EU employment regulations which take precedence over inaccurate claims by local prosecutors in Italy.”