Apple, Ireland to appeal against EU's back tax ruling
SILICON Valley tech titan Apple will fight an European Union demand for a record 13 billion euros (S$19.8 billion) in back taxes in Ireland, a move Washington warned could damage transatlantic economic ties.
Brussels said Apple avoided virtually all tax on its business in the bloc by illegal arrangements with Dublin which gave it an unfair edge over rivals.
Apple and the Irish government immediately said they would appeal against the European Commission ruling, with the iPhone maker warning it could cost European jobs.
The White House cautioned against "unilateral" measures by the EU.
EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager said: "This decision sends a clear message.
"Member states cannot give unfair tax benefits to selected companies, no matter if European or foreign, large or small."
Ireland has attracted multinationals over many years by offering extremely favourable sweetheart tax deals.
But after a three-year investigation, Brussels said the arrangement with Apple broke EU laws on state aid.
The findings come amid growing tensions between Washington and Brussels over a series of EU anti-trust investigations targeting other giant American companies such as Google, Amazon, McDonald's, Starbucks and Fiat Chrysler.
Apple has had a base in Cork since 1980 and employs nearly 6,000 people in Ireland.
Apple chief Tim Cook said he was "confident" the EU ruling would be overturned, adding that the firm was the biggest taxpayer in Ireland, the US and the world.
The Apple decision may also complicate struggling EU-US talks on what would be the world's biggest free trade deal, meant to be completed before US President Barack Obama steps down in January.
In October, Brussels also ordered US coffee giant Starbucks and Italian automaker Fiat to each repay up to 30 million euros in back taxes to the Netherlands and Luxembourg respectively.