The EU’s second-highest court has overturned a ruling that ordered Apple to pay a record €13 billion ($14.9 billion) in back taxes to the Irish government.
The ruling was made by the European Commission in 2016 and was seen as a significant win for Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s antitrust chief. Vestager concluded that a “sweetheart deal” from the Irish government meant the iPhone-maker paid an effective tax rate of less than 1 percent for years; a uniquely preferential deal that counted as “illegal state aid.”
“Member States cannot give tax benefits to selected companies – this is illegal under EU state aid rules,” said Vestager in 2016. “The Commission’s investigation concluded that Ireland granted illegal tax benefits to Apple, which enabled it to pay substantially less tax than other businesses over many years.” Both Apple and the Irish government refuted this.
But this decision was overturned this morning by judges of the General Court of the European Union, who said in a statement that “the Commission did not succeed in showing to the requisite legal standard that there was an advantage” for Apple.
The Commission now has two months and ten days to appeal the decision.
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