Apple may face a setback after an EU tribunal found that it erred in law when it found in the company’s favour over a tax ruling worth 14 billion euros. The counsel to Europe’s highest court stated as much on Thursday.
The EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager’s campaign against multinational corporations and EU nations involved transactions that regulators perceived as unjust state aid included the tax lawsuit against Apple.
In its 2016 finding, the European Commission said that Apple had profited for more than 20 years from two Irish tax rulings that had artificially lowered its tax burden to as low as 0.005% in 2014.
In 2020, the General Court of the European Union affirmed Apple’s lawsuit, ruling that regulators had not satisfied the legal burden of proof that Apple had benefited unfairly.
However, EU Court of Justice (CJEU) attorney general Giovanni Pitruzzella disagreed, arguing that CJEU judges ought to overturn the General Court’s decision and return the matter to the lower court.
In a non-binding decision, he declared, “The judgement of the General Court on ‘tax rulings’ adopted by Ireland in relation to Apple should be set aside.”
In addition to failing “to assess correctly the substance and consequences of certain methodological errors that, according to the Commission decision, vitiated the tax rulings,” he claimed that the General Court had made a number of legal errors.
Therefore, Pitruzzella stated, “the General Court must conduct a new assessment.”
Four out of five of these proposals are followed by the CJEU, which will make a decision in the upcoming months.