An EU lawyer is advocating for Apple to pay €13 billion in Irish taxes, asserting that a previous ruling allowing the tech giant to evade this payment should be reversed.

This development is the latest episode in the ongoing dispute involving the European Union, Apple, and the Irish government.

Three years ago, a ruling that had initially determined that Apple had received illicit tax incentives from the Irish government was overturned. However, Advocate General Giovanni Pitruzzella of the Court of Justice has proposed that the case be reexamined.

He contends that various legal errors were committed, and the prior ruling in favor of Apple failed to accurately assess the significance and repercussions of certain methodological mistakes that, according to the Commission’s decision, had tainted the tax rulings.

It’s important to note that this legal opinion is not a final verdict and holds no binding authority. Nonetheless, the court generally aligns with such opinions in the majority of cases.

In response to this latest development, an Apple spokesperson asserted that the initial ruling, which allowed the company to avoid, repaying taxes, had made it clear that Apple had not received any preferential treatment or state aid.

In 2016, the European Commission determined that Apple had received unjust advantages from the Irish government, allowing the company to pay substantially lower taxes compared to other businesses. The Commission deemed this as illegal assistance provided to Apple by the Irish state.

This case symbolized the Commission’s efforts to combat what it perceived as extensive tax avoidance by multinational corporations.

The Irish government has argued that Apple should not be obligated to reimburse the back taxes, believing that the benefits of attracting major corporations to the country outweighed the financial loss.

Ireland, known for its low corporate tax rates within the European Union, serves as Apple’s regional hub for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Although corporate tax rates are determined at the national level and not under the EU’s jurisdiction, the EU possesses significant authority to regulate state aid.

In this particular case, it asserted that Ireland, by applying very low tax rates to Apple, was providing the company with an unfair subsidy. Two years ago, the General Court, a lower court, ruled that the European Commission’s decision that Apple should repay taxes was legally flawed and should be annulled.

However, this ruling itself may now be reconsidered in light of the latest developments.

Last Updated: 10 November 2023