European Commission pleads court to get Apple to pay $14.3 bn in tax arrears

EU competition regulators appealed to the bloc’s highest court on Tuesday to override a lower tribunal and make Apple pay a record 13 billion euros ($14.3 billion) in Irish back taxes. 

The case, which has far-reaching implications for corporate tax bills, is the most high-profile of EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager’s campaign against sweetheart deals between multinationals and EU States. 

“Its outcome will determine whether member States may continue to grant multinational substantial tax breaks in return for jobs and investments,” European Commission lawyer Paul-John Loewenthal told the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). 

In a 2016 decision, the European Commission had said that two Irish tax rulings had for more than two decades artificially reduced Apple’s tax burden, which was as low as 0.005 per cent in 2014. 

The General Court in 2020 had said that regulators had not met the legal standard to show that Apple had enjoyed an unfair advantage. 

But Mr Loewenthal told judges at the Court of Justice that the judgment was “legally flawed” and should be set aside. 

Apple refuted the European Commission’s arguments, saying that it had paid its fair share of taxes in the appropriate country.

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