Apple CEO Tim Cook Calls EU Tax Ruling ‘Total Political Crap,’ Cites Potential Anti-U.S. Sentiment
Apple’s CEO Tim Cook has called the European Union’s imposition of a 13 billion euro ($14.5 billion) back tax bill on its company as a “total political crap” that’s “completely unfair,” while talking to Irish Independent on Thursday. Cook claims that Apple had likely been targeted because of anti-U.S. sentiment at the commission that may have been a factor in the decision to impose the bill.
“What I feel strongly about is that this decision was politically based, of that I’m very confident. There is no reason for it in fact or in law,” he said. Cook said he would fight closely with Ireland to overturn the ruling wherein Apple has been asked to pay Ireland 13 billion euros in back taxes.
“No one did anything wrong here and we need to stand together. Ireland is being picked on and this is unacceptable,” Cook was quoted as saying by the Irish Independent.
“I think it’s a desire to reallocate taxes that should be paid in the US to the EU,” he added.
On Tuesday, Apple was ordered to pay $14.5 billion in back taxes plus interest for accepting illegally low tax rates in Ireland over the past ten years. The penalty, the largest ever handed down by the EU’s executive body, was the result of an investigation into Apple’s “Double Irish” tax loophole that allowed the company to route European profits through two Irish subsidiaries.
Cook also rejected allegation by EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager that Apple had paid just 0.005 percent tax in Ireland in 2014.
“They just picked a number from I don’t know where,” he said, adding that Apple pays 26 percent per year on its global profits. “In the year that the Commission says we paid that tax figure, we actually paid $400m. We believe that makes us the highest taxpayer in Ireland that year,” he added.
Meanwhile, the EU’s top competition official Margrethe Vestager on Thursday rejected suggestions that the commission’s move against Apple was politically motivated.
“This is a decision based on the facts of the case,” she told journalists in Brussels. “We are obliged to … take decisions that are independent, based on our treaty, on our case law and the facts of the case, and can be checked by the European courts.”
However, on the other hand, Cook said Apple remained committed to expanding its operations in the country despite the ruling.
“I feel like Ireland stuck with Apple when it wasn’t easy to stick with Apple and now we’re sticking with Ireland,” he said.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said U.S. taxpayers could ultimately bear the brunt of the decision, if Apple is forced to make the payment, because the company then could deduct the billions it pays Ireland from the U.S. taxes it owes.
“We are concerned about a unilateral approach,” Earnest said, adding that it “threatens to undermine progress that we have made collaboratively with the Europeans to make the international taxation system fair” for both taxpayers and companies. The U.S. Treasury called the ruling “unfair, contrary to well-established legal principle.”
In a separate interview on Thursday with Irish state broadcaster RTE, Cook said the EU decision was “maddening” and that he was very assertive that his appeal would be successful.
You can read the full Irish Independent report here.