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Apple boss Tim Cook criticises EU's 13b euro tax ruling against the firm

ABC News logo ABC News 31/08/2016 Thuy Ong
Tim Cook© Niall Carson/Press Association Tim Cook

Apple chief executive Tim Cook has criticised the European Commission's ruling to charge the tech giant a record 13 billion euros in back taxes.

Mr Cook has argued the claim "has no basis in fact or in law" and would "strike a devastating blow to the sovereignty of EU member states".

In a 790 word statement titled "A Message to the Apple Community in Europe", Mr Cook said Apple did not receive any sweetheart tax deals from Ireland, pointing out that the company is the largest taxpayer in Ireland, the United States and the world.

"The opinion issued on August 30th alleges that Ireland gave Apple a special deal on our taxes," the Apple boss stated.

The EU's competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager said Apple's "selective treatment" in Ireland meant it paid an effective tax rate of just 1 per cent on its European profits in 2003, which then fell to a bare 0.005 per cent by 2014.

Brussels had launched an inquiry into the company's tax arrangements in Ireland in 2014, one of a series of cases targeting tax avoidance by major US corporations.

Apple opened its first operations in Europe in October 1980, opening a factory in Cork, Ireland with 60 employees.

At the time, Cork was suffering from high unemployment and extremely low economic investment, the company said.

Today, the Cupertino company employs nearly 6,000 people across the country, with a majority of its workforce still in Cork.

Apple said its success in Cork has helped create and sustain more than 1.5 million jobs across Europe.

"The European Commission has launched an effort to rewrite Apple's history in Europe, ignore Ireland's tax laws and upend the international tax system in the process," Mr Cook said.

"The Commission's move is unprecedented and it has serious, wide-reaching implications.

"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."

Apple stated it would appeal the Commission's ruling, and is "confident that the Commission's order will be reversed".

"The most profound and harmful effect of this ruling will be on investment and job creation in Europe," Mr Cook warned.

"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."

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