Apple wins EU court battle over back taxes

Photo (c) Lobro78 - Getty Images

The ruling saves the company nearly $15 billion

Apple won a tax battle against the European Union on Wednesday and subsequently will not have to pay 13 billion euros ($14.9 billion) in back taxes to Ireland. 

The European Commission concluded in 2016 that the Irish government had given Apple an unfair tax advantage and set out to have the money recovered. However, the EU’s General Court said Wednesday that the Commission "did not succeed in showing the requisite legal standard" to prove its conclusion. 

“The Commission didn’t succeed in showing to the requisite legal standard that there was an advantage for the purposes of Article 107(1) TFEU (a law against anticompetitive government subsidies that undermine the competitiveness of the European Union internal market),” the court said.

Conclusion annulled 

Apple said it was pleased with the court’s decision. 

“We thank the General Court for their time and consideration of the facts. We are pleased they have annulled the Commission’s case,” a company spokesperson said in a statement.

Margrethe Vestager, the Commission’s executive Vice President, said the Commission would "study the judgement and reflect on possible next steps.” 

“Today’s judgment by the General Court annuls the Commission’s August 2016 decision that Ireland granted illegal state aid to Apple through selective tax breaks,” Vestager said. “The Commission stands fully behind the objective that all companies should pay their fair share of tax.”

Apple, Ireland, and the commission have two months to decide whether to appeal the ruling. 

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