In a unanimous but tense vote, Ireland’s government has decided to appeal the European Commission’s recent ruling that saw Apple handed a $14.5 billion fee over tax breaks that were found to be unfairly advantageous over other companies.
“I believe that there are some very important principles at stake in this case and that a robust legal challenge before the courts is essential to defend Ireland’s interests,” Michael Noonan, Ireland’s finance minister, said in a statement to The New York Times.
“We need to ensure that Ireland’s corporation tax code meets these new standards while remaining competitive,” Noonan added, referencing a worldwide push by governments worldwide to simplify and restrict the practices used by companies to reduce tax payments.
Apple CEO Tim Cook, however, argued in an open letter that while Apple is a great supporter of international tax reform to promote “simplicity” and “clarity,” new rules shouldn’t be applied retroactively.
He also told Irish broadcaster RTE that, “The finding is wrongheaded. It’s not true: There wasn’t a special deal between Ireland and Apple.”
Meanwhile, Margrethe Vestager, Europe’s top competition official defended the ruling, stating, “All of us benefit when businesses pay their fair share of tax. It’s not in the interest of the individuals and businesses who do pay tax, if others aren’t paying their share.”
Both appeals are expected to take several years. Apple says it is setting aside the money in an escrow account if its appeal eventually fails.
Related: European Union slaps Apple with $14.5 billion USD in fees after ten years of Irish tax breaks
[source]The New York Times[/source]