The U.S. wanted to be in Apple’s corner for its battle against the European Union, but a ruling from the EU’s highest court means that the United States is going to have to keep its distance.
The court upheld a previous December decision from a lower court, stating that the American government has not proved that it has any direct interest in the state aid case against Apple.
The European Union handed Apple an enormous tax bill of $15.3 billion back in August 2016, claiming that the company took advantage of illegal state aid that allowed it to route profits through Ireland.
The investigation alleged that Apple paid the equivalent of as little as 0.005 percent on all European profits in 2014. Ireland’s reluctance to collect this money led to the European Commission suing Ireland in October.
European Commissioner Margrethe Vestager noted that, “We understand that recovery in certain cases maybe more complex than in others, and we are always ready to assist. But member states need to make sufficient progress to restore competition.”
The money from Apple is now being collected, and will be held in escrow until the end of the legal battle. Apple has continued to argue that it pays every cent that it owes, and reminded critics that it is the world’s largest tax payer. (Which, as the world’s most valuable company, is exactly what you would expect!)
The U.S.’s opposition to the European Union’s beef with Apple is based on the fact that the EU has supposedly turned itself into a “supra-national tax authority.” In a statement after this week’s court case, a Department of Justice official said that, “the U.S. is disappointed in the decision to deny its participation in litigation concerning the tax treatment of U.S. companies.”