The EU ordered Apple to pay 13 billion euros in in 2016 after ruling it had benefitted from illegal state aid from Ireland.
- Apple has won an appeal against an EU order to pay 13 billion euros ($15 billion) in back taxes to Ireland, per a ruling on Wednesday by Europe's second-highest court.
- The EU ordered Apple to cough up the tax in 2016 after ruling that the firm had benefited from illegal state aid from Ireland, a low-tax regime.
- According to the European Commission, Apple has benefited from reduced taxes in Ireland for two decades, allegedly paying as little as 0.005% corporate tax in 2014.
- Apple welcomed Wednesday's decision by the EU General Court, saying it was the largest taxpayer in the world.
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Apple has won an appeal against paying $15 billion in back taxes to Ireland.
On Wednesday the EU General Court annulled a European Commission order that forced Apple to pay 13 billion euros ($15 billion) in back taxes.
The order dates back to 2016, when the competition watchdog ruled Apple had benefitted from illegal state aid in Ireland.
The European Commission said at the time that Ireland had tailored tax laws that allowed Apple to pay artificially low corporate tax on its profits in Europe for more than 20 years. At one point, Apple paid a corporate tax rate of as little as 0.005% in 2014, the Commission said in its 2016 statement.
Apple and Ireland — which has been able to attract big multinationals with its low tax rates — both appealed the decision in September 2019. Apple began paying the back taxes into an escrow account in 2018, in the hope that it could recoup the cash if its appeal was successful.
On Wednesday the EU General Court said that while it agreed with the Commission that there were inconsistencies in Ireland's tax laws, it hadn't seen sufficient evidence that Ireland had given special treatment to Apple.
"Although the General Court regrets the incomplete and occasionally inconsistent nature of the contested tax rulings, the defects identified by the Commission are not, in themselves, sufficient to prove the existence of an advantage," the court said in its statement.
"We thank the General Court for their time and consideration of the facts. We are pleased they have annulled the Commission's case," an Apple spokesman told Business Insider.
"This case was not about how much tax we pay, but where we are required to pay it. We're proud to be the largest taxpayer in the world as we know the important role tax payments play in society. Apple has paid more than $100 billion in corporate income taxes around the world in the last decade and tens of billions more in other taxes. Changes in how a multinational company's income tax payments are split between different countries require a global solution, and Apple encourages this work to continue," he added.
Margrethe Vestager, executive vice president of the European Commission who brought the case in 2016, said in a statement: "We will carefully study the judgment and reflect on possible next steps."