As of June, Apple reported it had cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities of $231.5 billion, of which 92.8 percent, or $214.9 billion, were held in foreign subsidiaries. It paid $2.67 billion in taxes during its latest quarter at an effective tax rate of 25.5 percent, leaving it with net income of $7.8 billion according to company filings.
The European Commission in 2014 accused Ireland of dodging international tax rules by letting Apple shelter profits worth tens of billions of dollars from tax collectors in return for maintaining jobs. Apple and Ireland rejected the accusation.
“I disagree profoundly with the Commission,” Irish Finance Minister Michael Noonan said in a statement. “The decision leaves me with no choice but to seek cabinet approval to appeal.
“This is necessary to defend the integrity of our tax system; to provide tax certainty to business; and to challenge the encroachment of EU state aid rules into the sovereign member state competence of taxation.”
Ireland also said the disputed tax system used in the Apple case no longer applied and that the decision had no effect on Ireland’s 12.5 percent corporate tax rate or on any other company with operations in the country.
Apple said in a statement it was confident of winning an appeal.
“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. The Commission’s case is not about how much Apple pays in taxes, it’s about which government collects the money. It will have a profound and harmful effect on investment and job creation in Europe.”
When it opened the Apple investigation in 2014, the Commission told the Irish government that tax rulings it agreed in 1991 and 2007 with the company amounted to state aid and might have broken EU laws.
The Commission said the rulings were “reverse engineered” to ensure Apple had a minimal Irish bill and that minutes of meetings between Apple representatives and Irish tax officials showed the company’s tax treatment had been “motivated by employment considerations.”
Apple employs 5,500, or about a quarter of its Europe-based staff, in the Irish city of Cork, where it is the largest private sector employer. It has said it paid Ireland’s 12.5 percent rate on all the income that it generates in the country.
Ireland’s low corporate tax rate has been a cornerstone of economic policy for 20 years, drawing investors from multinational companies whose staff account for almost one in 10 workers in Ireland.
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Some opposition Irish lawmakers have urged Dublin to collect whatever tax the Commission orders it to. But the main opposition party Fianna Fail, whose support the minority administration relies on to pass laws, said it would support an appeal based on reassurances it had been given by the government.
The U.S. Treasury Department published a white paper last week that said the EU executive’s tax investigations departed from international taxation norms and would have an outsized impact on U.S. companies. The Commission said it treated all companies equally.