Jeroen Dijsselbloem, president of the eurozone’s finance ministers, has accused Apple of “[failing] to grasp” the public outcry concerning tax avoidance by multinational corporations.
He was referring to last week’s landmark decision, which handed Apple an enormous tax bill of 13 billion euros ($14.52 billion), based on its supposed underpayment of taxes in the Republic of Ireland. Apple paid a reported 0.005 percent tax on its European profits in 2014.
“The Apple response shows that they don’t grasp what’s going on in society and they do not grasp what’s going on in the public debate,” Dijsselbloem said during the Ambrosetti forum of business leaders in Italy. “This is a very strong moral issue and large companies, even if they’re this large, can’t say ‘this is not about us, there’s no problem here.’”
Interestingly, Dijsselbloem has previously clashed with the European Commission over his decision to offer a “sweetheart deal” to Starbucks in the Netherlands, where is finance minister. The case of Apple, however, is one he insist is different.
Since Apple was handed its tax bill, both Apple and the Irish government (despite being the country that would benefit from the windfall) have said they will appeal the decision.
In an interview concerning the case, Tim Cook — who has also written an open letter defending Apple’s position — said the demands for money amounted to “political crap,” and that anti-U.S. bias could be behind the E.C.’s decision.