Apple has won its appeal against a 2016 European Commission ruling that it had to pay €13bn (£11.6bn or $14.9bn) in taxes to Ireland. The ruling of 2016 was based on the alleged illegal tax relaxations been given to the tech giant by Dublin.
The European Union’s second highest court, the General Court said on Wednesday that it has annulled the prior decision due to lack of sufficient evidence that suggested Apple had failed to comply by the EU’s competition rules.
This is a major blow to the European Commission – Europe’s top antitrust authority – that had brought the case in 2016 stating that Irish government had relaxed regulations for Apple thereby keeping the tax bill “artificially” low for the iPhone maker tech giant for over 20 years.
European Commission has 14 days as per the laws if it wants to appeal against the decision made by EU’s Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice.
Apple reacted to the ruling in a statement “This case was not about how much tax we pay, but where we are required to pay it. We’re proud to be the largest taxpayer in the world, as we know the important role tax payments paly in society.”
Irish government too had appealed against the Commission’s ruling. The country has always maintained that Apple hasn’t received any special treatment. The government said, “The correct amount of Irish tax was charged, in line with normal Irish taxation rules.”
Ireland has been an attractive destination for tech moguls internationally as it has one of the lowest corporate tax rates in Europe, making the small country a European base for companies like Apple, Google and Facebook.
The ruling has naturally not settled well by the European Commission. Margrethe Vestager, the EU Competition Commissioner who had brought the case said that “she would study the judgement and reflect on possible next steps.”
“I suspect that many people in Ireland think… ‘Why is there a company that pays 0.05% in taxes?’ I pay more taxes than Apple, for that matter. Many people pay more taxes”, said Dutch MEP Paul Tang who called the supreme court’s ruling “deeply unfair”.
Irish government argues explaining its stand that it does not need money from Apple in form of repaying the lost taxes. It says that the loss, if incurred, is worth if it makes Ireland a destination for tech giants and companies in a form of long-term investment.
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