EU appeals against Apple ruling in $15 billion tax battle

Apple

  • The EU’s general court ruled in July that the Commission had failed to prove that the Irish government had given a tax advantage to the tech giant.
  • The Commission will now take the case to the highest court in Europe.
  • “We have to continue to use all tools at our disposal to ensure companies pay their fair share of tax,” the EU’s competition chief Margrethe Vestager said.

The battle between the EU and Apple on taxation is not over yet.

On Friday, the European Commission, which is the executive arm of the EU, said it would appeal a court ruling involving Apple and the Republic of Ireland.

The EU’s general court ruled in July that the Commission had failed to prove that the Irish government had given a tax advantage to the tech giant.

The Commission’s team, led by the EU’s competition chief Margrethe Vestager, argued in 2016 that Apple had to repay 13 billion euros ($15.17 billion) in unpaid taxes to Ireland, after the latter granted “undue tax benefits” to the firm.

However, both the Irish government and the tech giant contested the allegation.

The European Commission will now take the case to the highest court in Europe.

“The Commission has decided to appeal before the European Court of Justice the General Court’s judgment of July 2020 on the Apple State aid case in Ireland,” Vestager said in a statement Friday.

Vestager said that the General Court raised “important legal issues” in its ruling, but added that “the Commission also respectfully considers that in its judgment the General Court has made a number of errors of law.

She highlighted that the same court had previously stated that EU member nations needed to respect European treaties, despite being able to set up their own taxation laws.

“We have to continue to use all tools at our disposal to ensure companies pay their fair share of tax,” Vestager said.

July’s ruling challenged the way the Commission uses state aid policy to fight non-competitive deals. It asked the Commission to put forward more evidence in these situations — making it a potentially lengthy and complicated task.

In reaction to the announcement on Friday, a spokesperson for Apple said: “We will review the Commission’s appeal when we receive it, however it will not alter the factual conclusions of the General Court, which prove that we have always abided by the law in Ireland, as we do everywhere we operate.”

In addition, Paschal Donohoe, the Irish finance minister, said he noted the Commission’s decision to appeal.

“The (Irish) Government will need to take some time to consider, in detail, the legal grounds set out in the appeal and to consult with the Government’s legal advisors, in responding to this appeal,” he said.

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