Apple slams European Union as epic court battle over tax bill begins

18 Septembre, 2019, 00:00 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
  • Apple slams EU as epic court battle over tax bill begins

In May of this year, it was reported that the legal costs arising from the controversial tax case had already exceeded €7.1m and, as the appeal begins, this figure will likely continue to rise.

In August 2016, the Commission said tax rulings by Ireland in 1991 and in 2007 had artificially reduced Apple's tax burden for over two decades, effectively making it illegal state aid.

Both Ireland and Apple are appealing against the ruling.

Apple lawyer Daniel Beard said the Commission's order suggests that all of Apple's sales outside the United States must be linked to its Irish branches, even though its products are developed in the US.

'As Ireland has already emphasised, it undermines legal certainty if state aid measures are used to retrofit changes to national law. and legal certainty is a key principle of European Union law; one upon which businesses depend, ' Beard said. Lawyers for the Commission will also make their case later today.

Ireland, which has benefited from investment by multinational companies attracted by low tax rates, is also challenging the commission's decision. Apple's six-person delegation was led by CFO Luca Maestri, according to Reuters.

Beard said that if the European Court wanted to claw back profits from Apple they should "change the worldwide tax system", a proposal that would appear absurd on its face because even the EU has limits to what it can accomplish outside of Europe.

The appeal will provide an acid test for competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager's legal moves against a raft of companies with similar arrangements in Ireland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.

Apple slams EU as epic court battle over tax bill begins

Beard dismissed criticism of the 0.005% tax rate paid by Apple's main Irish unit in 2014, which was cited by the Commission in its decision, saying the regulator was just seeking "headlines by quoting tiny numbers".

While the hearing lacks some of the box-office appeal of Monday's Brexit meeting a few miles down the road between U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Luxembourg counterpart Xavier Bettel, it's a blockbuster event for the EU's courts, with dozens of lawyers and lobbyists crammed into a chamber that's usually virtually empty.

The cases are: T-892/16, Apple Sales International and Apple Operations Europe v. Commission, T-778/16, Ireland v. Commission.

In 2016, the European Commission found an agreement between Dublin and the technology giant was against EU law.

The EU's Competition supremo, Vestager, is in particular accused by the USA president of "hating" the US.

The group insists that it is in the United States, where the company invests in research and development and thus creates wealth, that it must pay taxes on the revenue in question. He has slammed her as the "tax lady" because of the investigations and heavy fines imposed on United States groups such as Google.

Ireland is on Apple's side in this dispute, largely because it likes being a tax haven for large multinational corporations.

The Commission ordered Ireland to recover the illegal aid plus interest and that money - some €14.3 billion in unpaid taxes and interest is now sitting in an escrow account.

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