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"The Irish government has done absolutely nothing wrong" - Tim Cook

The Apple CEO has come out swinging since yesterday’s decision by the EC to bill his company €13 billion for unpaid Irish taxes.

Italy Cook Tim Cook Source: Luca Bruno

APPLE CEO TIM Cook has hit back at the criticism aimed at his company and the tax it paid (or didn’t pay) within Ireland over the last 25 years, and says the European Commission’s bill of €13 billion for his company “comes from a political place”.

In an interview with RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Cook claimed that Apple’s worldwide tax rate in 2014 was 21.6%, as opposed to the 0.005% the European Commission claims it paid on its European profits that year.

“It’s maddening, it’s disappointing, it comes from a political place, it has no basis in fact or law,” Cook said of the decision.

Unfortunately it’s one of those things you have to work through.

Cook claimed that the “numbers being thrown around” regarding Apple’s tax bill are “a lot of misinformation, a lot of false information”.

“We pay the Irish corporate tax rate of 12.5%, we paid $400 million tax in Ireland in 2014,” he said.

I believe we’re the largest taxpayer there, we want to be a great citizen in the Irish community we’re working in.

“In 2014 our worldwide income tax rate was 21.6%,” Cook said. “I can recognise that people might hear that figure and think it should be higher, others might think it should be lower, others might think that it’s about right but should be paid to different countries, or allocated better.”

I think all discussions are fair discussions, and all reasonable people could agree or disagree, but that should be about future not retroactive taxes.

When asked if Apple had been given a special deal by the Irish government, or had ever been given a so-called sweetheart deal, Cook replied “no” definitively to both questions.

Regarding the tax rate of 0.005% that Europe’s competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager claims Apple pays, Cook said: “It’s a false number, I have no idea where it comes from.”

“We paid $400 million in Ireland in 2014, another $400 million in the US, and many other taxes in other countries where we made a profit,” he said.

Cook also said that Apple has provisioned “several billion dollars” for payment of US taxes once the company’s profits are repatriated back to its parent country.

He suggested that this process will happen next year.

“A romance”

He said Apple is “very committed to Ireland”. “We’ve been in a romance together now for 37 years, we’re confident the government will do the right thing and appeal this decision.”

We haven’t done anything wrong, and the Irish government hasn’t done anything wrong, we’ve built a great relationship together.
Apple has always been about doing the right thing.

Cook said that Apple themselves will be appealing the decision and further added that the company’s confidence in Ireland “hasn’t been diminished one iota”.

“We’re not going to let an invalid ruling alter our deep commitment to Ireland,” he said.

Apple Williamsburg Source: Mark Lennihan

He described the European Commission’s “overreach” in the situation as “unbelievable to us”. He said the decision was “maddening”  and “not based on law or fact”, but that he was confident it would be overturned on appeal.

“It’s like playing a sports game and winning the championship and then finding out the goals are worth less than you thought they were,” he said.

The situation has created an enormous headache for the government as it seeks to justify appealing the EC’s decision – in effect refusing the €13 billion windfall.

Yesterday, a five-hour cabinet meeting finished with the issue adjourned until Friday. Meanwhile, yesterday evening it emerged that Taoiseach Enda Kenny had spoken to Cook prior to the bombshell announcement by the EC.

Speaking also on RTÉ this morning, Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said that “legal or illegal”, the deal Apple had been given by Ireland was “wrong”.

“A stateless company paying no taxes, I don’t believe that was fair,” he said.

That was not proper tax justice.

European reaction

Speaking at a news conference in Brussels today, European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager disagreed with Cook’s assertions.

“This is a decision based on the facts of the case – looking into Apple Sales International, how they were arranged within Ireland, and the profits recorded there.

“The enforcement part of the competition portfolio does not really fit into any political picture.

“It fits into the EU treaty. We take independent decisions which are fact based.”

Read: Taoiseach spoke to Apple CEO before bombshell tax announcement

Read: Appeal for 59-year-old missing since visiting Donegal

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