Apple tax decision not against US: European Commission chief

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HIGHLIGHTS
• Apple avoided virtually all tax on its business in the bloc by illegal arrangements with EU member Ireland
• Apple and the Irish govt have said they will appeal against the European Commission ruling
• Ireland has attracted MNCs over many years by offering favourable tax deals

European authorities’ decision to slap Apple with a huge bill for back taxes was not a decision “against the United States”, European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker said Sunday as world leaders gathered in China for a major economic summit.

The 13-billion-euro demand for payment from the American electronics giant has raised hackles in the US, with the White House decrying what it described as a “unilateral” approach to rewriting global taxation norms.

Speaking to reporters before the Group of 20 leadership summit in Hangzhou, Juncker said the decision was not aimed at the US.

“It would be absurd to choose this territory of state taxation to attack the USA,” he said, adding that most of the commission’s punitive measures were against European companies.

“We are applying the rules,” he said. “We are basing our decisions on facts and on the legislation.”

Brussels said Apple, the world’s most valuable company, avoided virtually all tax on its business in the bloc by illegal arrangements with EU member Ireland, which gave the company an unfair advantage over competitors.

Apple and the Irish government have said they will appeal against the European Commission ruling, with the iPhone maker warning it could cost European jobs.

Ireland has attracted multinationals over many years by offering favourable tax deals to generate much-needed jobs and investment.

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 US companies such asGoogle, Amazon, McDonald’s, Starbucks and Fiat Chrysler.

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