Ireland plans legal action against EU over Apple tax decision

The Irish government agreed Friday to appeal a decision by the European Union which forces the country to collect billions of euros from US technology giant Apple, a spokesman said.

The European Commission has demanded Apple pay back 13 billion euros (14.5 billion dollars) in illegally granted tax benefits after ruling on Tuesday that Dublin had "substantially and artificially" lowered Apple's tax bill in Ireland since 1991, giving the company an unfair competitive advantage.

The Irish parliament will still have to approve the government's plan to take legal action against the EU decision.

Taxation is a national competence in the 28-country European Union, but the commission believes it can intervene in the case of Apple because its tax arrangements in Ireland constitute state aid, an area it regulates.

"The probe was three years under way to make sure we really have a solid case, which I firmly believe we do," EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said Friday.

"The Commission will defend its decision in court," a European Commission spokesperson said.

Some critics have accused the EU of cracking down on US companies to protect its own industry, a suggestion the commission has rejected.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said after the decision that Washington would prefer the EU work with the US, rather than taking a unilateral approach that could have an unfair impact on US taxpayers.

Apple chief executive Tim Cook dismissed the commission's decision as "total political crap" in an interview with the Irish Independent newspaper. His company didn't pay a 0.005-per-cent tax rate, as the commission claims, but instead paid 400 million euros in the year under review, making it likely the largest tax payer in Ireland, he said.

Last update: Fri, 02/09/2016 - 17:48

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