Apple boss calls EU tax ruling ‘total political crap’

Apple CEO Tim Cook © Stephen Lam
The EU ruling forcing US technology giant Apple to pay €13 billion ($14.5 billion) back tax to Ireland is "completely unfair" and "total political crap,” said company CEO Tim Cook in an interview with the Irish Independent.

Cook has blasted the decision by the European Commission which obliges Apple to repay the huge sum as well as interest in back taxes to the Irish government.

According to Cook, the regulator’s move was a politically motivated attempt to harmonize tax rates across the European Union with Apple suffering because of anti-American sentiment at the commission.

"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 denies the accusations that Apple paid just 0.005 percent tax in Ireland in 2014.

“It’s total political crap; they just picked a number from I don’t know where. In the year that the commission says we paid that tax figure, we actually paid $400 million,” said Cook, stressing that it made the corporation the highest taxpayer in Ireland that year.

Cook says he firmly believes that neither Apple, nor the Irish government did anything wrong, backing the country’s decision to appeal against the commission’s ruling.

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“I think we’ll work very closely together, as we have the same motivation,” said Cook, adding that “Ireland is being picked on and this is unacceptable.”

Following a three-year investigation into the iPhone maker’s complicated tax schemes, the European Commission concluded that the company benefited from a sweetheart tax deal granted by the Irish government in breach of the European Union's state aid rules.

The Irish government, pushed by fears of losing its competitiveness in attracting global businesses, voiced plans to appeal the order just after the ruling was announced.

“Ireland has a period of two months and 10 days to bring an appeal. The government will now study the decision of the European Commission in consultation with its legal advisors to prepare the grounds for an appeal,” Finance Minister Michael Noonan said in a statement.

The technology giant has been operating in Ireland since the eighties and expected to go ahead with plans for expansion in Cork.

“We have a 37-year-old marriage with Ireland and it means something to us … I feel like Ireland stuck with Apple when it wasn’t easy to stick with Apple, and now we’re sticking with Ireland,” said Tim Cook.