After a three-year probe, the European Commission has come to a decision regarding Apple’s alleged tax underpayments in Ireland, and the verdict isn’t good for the iPhone maker: It’s now on the hook for €13 billion ($14.5 billion), plus interest, in back taxes. It’s the largest fine the EU has ever doled out to a company, and significant even for a firm of Apple’s size.
This chart from Statista should help put the number into perspective. From 2003 to 2014 — the period to which the EU’s investigation and fine applies — Apple says it’s paid $4.89 billion in income taxes outside the United States. That’s over the course of 12 years. The EU’s fine asks for almost triple that.
Apple and Ireland both plan to appeal the ruling, a process that reportedly could push any decision back by three or four years. Apple itself says the effects here are more long-term than short-term, and if it does have to pay back the full amount, it won’t have that much trouble footing the bill. And again, the EU’s complaint is with Apple’s alleged “sweetheart deal” with Ireland, not foreign tax rates in general. Still, the ruling is unprecedented.
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