Tax breaks for Apple Inc., Starbucks Corp. and Fiat Finance& Trade SA in three European Union countries are underinvestigation by EU competition regulators in a clampdown onspecial treatment for companies.

The EU is checking whether the tax deals in Ireland, theNetherlands and Luxembourg are illegal state aid, according to ane-mailed statement today. Governments can be ordered by theEuropean Commission to claw back unfair aid.

The EU inquiry comes amid a global crackdown on tax avoidance asgovernments struggle to increase revenue and reduce deficits.Lawmakers in the U.S., the U.K., France and Italy have scrutinizedcompanies such as Microsoft Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co., GoogleInc., and Inc. The commission has said tax avoidance andevasion in the EU cost about 1 trillion euros ($1.4 trillion) ayear.

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