Apple Wins $15 Billion Court Battle With EU Over Irish Tax
On Wednesday, the EU Court of Justice ruled in favor of Apple, annulling the European Commission’s decision that forced the company to pay back €13 billion ($14.9 billion) in back taxes to Ireland.
The Court decided that the European Commission “did not succeed in showing to the requisite legal standard” that Apple had a tax advantage in Ireland.
The European Commission said in 2016 that Ireland’s tax benefits to Apple were illegal and that they give the company an advantage over other businesses, forcing Apple to cough up the money to Ireland.
At the time of the original decision, Apple CEO Tim Cook called the Commission’s findings “wrongheaded,” saying he hoped a court would overturn the decision.
Presently, Apple said it was pleased with the court’s decision. “This case was not about how much tax we pay, but where we are required to pay it,” the company said in a statement.
The European Commission said it will study the judgment and think about next steps, but it generally aims to continue monitoring EU member states for aggressive tax planning, which may be considered illegal under EU law.
“The Commission stands fully behind the objective that all companies should pay their fair share of tax. If Member States give certain multinational companies tax advantages not available to their rivals, this harms fair competition in the EU. It also deprives the public purse and citizens of funds for much needed investments — the need for which is even more acute during times of crisis,” the EU Commission’s executive vice president Margrethe Vestager said in a statement.
While the decision likely means Apple will continue to invest in Ireland, it does effectively mean that the country is losing $15 billion at a time when it has been stricken by a pandemic. The country’s finance ministry said it welcomes the Court’s judgment, claiming it has “always been clear that there was no special treatment” provided to Apple.