Like many orher hi-tech corporations, Apple also has come under scrutiny of the italian Internal Revenue Service. Apple allegedly set up trade operations with foreign companies in order to subtract the Italian tax authorities more than a billion Euro.

Yesterday the company's headquarters in Piazza San Babila, facing the world famous cathedral of Milan, was searched by men of the financial police (Guardia di Finanza) on the orders of prosecutors Adriano Scudieri and Francesco Greco, seizing computer documents and phone records. They also issued formal notifications of investigation addressed to two Apple Italy's executives, whose name haven't been disclosed yet. 

The indictment alleges that Apple Italy subtracted to the Italian tax authorities € 206 million Euro in 2010 and more than 853 million Euro in 2011, falsifying records in order to make any investigation difficult to operate. All this would occur by moving the profits from Apple Italy to the company Apple Sales International, who is based in Ireland and can operate in a more favorable tax regime.

As mentioned before, several corporations -- especially those operating on the internet and in the IT sector -- are using similar mechanisms and are subject to disputes in different European countries. It is a muddy legal ground, because the demands of the local tax agencies oppose European rules on free movement of goods and capital.

Working with different local companies, corporations can hold locally only a small portion of the profits actually generated on the territory, moving the bulk of turnover on subsidiaries resident in tax havens or territories qith a more forgiving taxation.

Apple is confident that the company is abiding to the rules. Contacted by Macworld Italy on the topic, Apple replied with the following statement: "Apple pays every dollar and euro it owes in taxes and we are continuously audited by governments around the world. The Italian tax authorities already audited Apple Italy in 2007, 2008 and 2009 and confirmed that we were in full compliance with the OECD documentation and transparency requirements. We are confident the current review will reach the same conclusion." 

Andrea Grassi works for PCWorld,it and Follow@andreagrassi on Twitter