General Court of the European Union hears arguments for ...

GENERAL COURT OF THE EUROPEAN UNION copyright credit European union

The European General Court ruled that the deal between tech giant Apple and Ireland did not give Apple an illegal tax break under EU competitiveness rules.

The court annulled a 2016 ruling that found that Ireland gave Apple an illegal tax break. The 2016 ruling further ordered Apple to pay up to $14.5B in back taxes for the illegal aid. In response, Ireland brought the case to the General Court.

Ireland argued the loss was worth it, as it persuaded large corporations to call Ireland their home in the EU. Additionally, the loss encouraged investment in Ireland.

The General Court found that there was not enough evidence to prove Ireland granted Apple an illegal tax break under EU rules. However, not all parties in Ireland are happy with the ruling. If the European Commission had won the case, then Apple would have been required to pay the back taxes to Ireland as punishment.

In 2016, the minority government at the time, Fine Gael joined the appeal by Ireland to the General Court. In contrast, Sinn Féin stood with the European Commission.

In a statement released Wednesday by a party spokesman, Sinn Féin seemed hopeful for an appeal to the European Court of Justice. They noted that appeal could be successful, as “previous State aid rulings with respect to tax treatment having been overturned by the ECJ in recent years.”

The European Commission, which brought the case against Apple, expressed dismay. Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said that they will “carefully study the judgement reflect on possible next steps.” She said:

The Commission stands fully behind the objective that all companies should pay their fair share of tax. If Member States give certain multinational companies tax advantages not available to their rivals, this harms fair competition in the EU. It also deprives the public purse and citizens of funds for much needed investments—the need for which is even more acute during times of crisis.

The European Commission presented a tax package Wednesday that seeks to curb “unfair tax competition and increasing tax transparency.”

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