Apple says $14.5 billion tax bill strikes "devastating blow to the sovereignty of EU member states"

Mobile giant confident ruling will be reversed on appeal

Apple says $14.5 billion tax bill strikes "devastating blow to the sovereignty of EU member states"

Apple is confident it will not have to pay a $14.5 billion tax bill as ordered by the European Commission earlier today.

The Commission found that Ireland’s tax benefits arrangement with Apple, in place since 1991, had “substantially and artificially lowered the tax paid by Apple” and is illegal under EU state aid rules.

It also claimed that in 2014, the mobile phone giant had a corporate tax rate on its European profits as little as 0.005%. That's roughly $50 for every $1 million Apple made.

“No basis in fact”

Apple has protested its innocence however and CEO Tim Cook has released a statement that he is confident the decision will be reversed.

He also said the European Commission’s suggestion that Ireland gave Apple a special deal on taxes “has no basis in fact or law”.

“The Commission’s move is unprecedented and it has serious, wide-reaching implications,” said Cook.

“It is effectively proposing to replace Irish tax laws with a view of what the Commission thinks the law should have been. This would strike a devastating blow to the sovereignty of EU member states over their own tax matters, and to the principle of certainty of law in Europe.

“Ireland has said they plan to appeal the Commission’s ruling and Apple will do the same. We are confident that the Commission’s order will be reversed.”

Wide-reaching consequences

Cook said the European Commission’s ruling could have a “profound and harmful effect” on investment and job creation in Europe.

“Using the Commission’s theory, every company in Ireland and across Europe is suddenly at risk of being subjected to taxes under laws that never existed,” he stated.

For its part, Ireland has also pledged to appeal the decision. Despite the fact that Ireland could stand to receive a huge cash windfall if it supports the ruling.

"I disagree profoundly with the Commission," said Ireland finance minister Michael Noonan, as reported by the BBC.

"The decision leaves me with no choice but to seek cabinet approval to appeal. This is necessary to defend the integrity of our tax system; to provide tax certainty to business; and to challenge the encroachment of EU state aid rules into the sovereign member state competence of taxation."

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Craig Chapple is a freelance analyst, consultant and writer with specialist knowledge of the games industry. He has previously served as Senior Editor at, as well as holding roles at Sensor Tower, Nintendo and Develop.