European competition regulators on Tuesday asked the European Union’s highest court to overturn a trial court and force Apple to pay a record 13 billion euros ($14.3 billion) in tax arrears in Ireland.
The case, which has major implications for corporate tax, is the most high-profile of EU policy chief Margrethe Vestager’s antitrust campaign against anti-trafficking deals between multinationals and EU member states. of Europe.
“The outcome will determine whether member states can continue to offer multinational corporations significant tax breaks for labor and investment,” Commission lawyer Paul-John Loewenthal told the EU’s Court of Justice. European Union (CJEU).
In a 2016 decision, the European Commission said two Irish tax rulings, over two decades, had reduced Apple’s tax burden from just 0.005% in 2014.
In 2020, the Court of First Instance said regulators failed to meet the legal standard of showing that Apple gained an unfair advantage.
But Mr Loewenthal told the judges of the Court of Justice that this sentence was “erroneous in law” and should be overturned.
Apple denied the Commission’s arguments, saying it had paid its fair share of taxes in the countries concerned.
“The profits that we are talking about – the profits that the Commission said should be attributed to those branches in Ireland – those profits were actually subject to the US tax regime,” Daniel Beard told the court.
“Apple has set aside reserves for the payment of these US taxes and is paying approximately €20 billion in US taxes on the same profits that the Commission says should be taxed by Ireland,” said Apple.
“Apple paid the tax that was owed under the Irish tax code.
In recent months, Europe’s competition watchdog has won court sanctions against Fiat Chrysler, now known as Stellantis, Amazon and Starbucks, although it won legal action when the CJEU upheld it in September in a Belgian tax exemption case. against a group of international organizations.
The case under review on Tuesday is C-465/20 P Commission v Ireland and others.
The judgment of the Court of Justice is expected in the coming months and will form the final word.
(1 dollar = 0.9084 euro)