European Commission may not appeal Apple’s tax verdict victory after all

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iPhone with gavel.
Court case concerned Apple's $14.8 billion tax bill.
Photo: Tingey Injury Law Firm/Cult of Mac

The European Commission has yet to appeal its loss to Apple in the landmark multi-billion dollar tax bill case. And it may not do so at all.

The EC lost lost its court case about Apple’s $14.8 billion tax bill in July. At the time, it was widely assumed that the EC would appeal the case. However, with the deadline looming on Friday it has yet to do so.

On Friday, competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager was asked by reports about the deadline. “We haven’t taken that decision yet,” Vestager said. “As the commission always does, we’ll wait until we’re closer to the deadline of the appeal question, and then of course I’ll be happy to come back to that.”

The Irish Times writes that:

“[It] is widely expected by legal observers that the commission will not appeal the ruling by the General Court in Luxemburg, given how emphatically the court shot down the arguments of Ms Vestager’s team.”

If it does not appeal the decision, it will have to begin transferring the money back to Apple. Apple paid the last installment of its payment in September 2018, having been given the bill in summer 2016. This money was held in an escrow account in Ireland until the end of the case. The case examined whether Apple received illegal state aid from the Republic of Ireland.

Morally in the right?

Europe has stuck by its argument that it is morally wrong that Apple pays so little tax. “We do not consider it normal that the largest corporates get away with paying one percent tax at most,” European Commission executive vice-president Valdis Dombrovskis said this year.

Apple has always argued that it pays every cent of tax that it owes. During a 2015 episode of 60 Minutes, Apple CEO Tim Cook labeled reports that Apple doesn’t pay its taxes “total political crap.” Apple’s Chief Financial Officer Luca Maestri has said that “if there is a fair outcome of the [European Commission] investigation, [Apple should pay] zero” extra tax.