Apple and Ireland win appeal over EU’s €13bn tax demand

Apple and Ireland have won an appeal against an EU order that the tech giant pay the country €13bn (£11.6bn) in back taxes.

In 2016, the European Commission ruled that Ireland had breached state aid rules by giving Apple unfair tax benefits, and ordered Ireland to recover the money plus interest.

Both Ireland and Apple appealed that judgment and, this morning, the General Court of the European Union annulled the European Commission decision.

In its decision today, the General Court decreed that Apple had not been “granted a selective economic advantage” by Irish tax policies.

The Irish Department of Finance welcomed the ruling, saying: “Ireland has always been clear that there was no special treatment provided to [Apple]. The correct amount of Irish tax was charged, taxation in line with normal Irish taxation rules.”

In its reaction to the news, Sinn Fein finance spokesperson, Pearse Doherty, said: “Today was a bad day for the Irish taxpayer.”

Another opposition TD (member of the Irish parliament) said it would constitute “economic treason” if the Irish government does not accept the money, against the backdrop of the fiscal slump caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Apple had previously described the European decision as defying “reality and common sense”, while the Irish government had said it was fundamentally flawed.

Ireland had always refused to pursue the funds, but in 2018, Apple put €14.3bn into an escrow – or holding – account, comprised of the €13.1bn in alleged unpaid taxes plus interest of €1.2bn.

The ruling could be appealed to the European Court of Justice.

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