The European Commission ruled that Apple benefited from a special taxing regime from Ireland, and should repay the country up to £11 billion ($14.42 billion).
The Commission's decision comes as the conclusion of an investigation that lasted three years and which shows that the Irish tax benefits are illegal. To put it in perspective, Apple only paid a corporate tax rate of 1 percent, whereas the standard corporate tax is 12.5 percent.
Apple and Ireland both affirmed that the ruling is unfair and are preparing an appeal against it, and both are confident that the Commission will reverse its order.
The company's CEO Tim Cook published a message to the Apple community in Europe explaining the situation and pointing out that his company did not receive special treatment in Ireland.
He notes that the Commission embarked in an initiative "to rewrite Apple's history in Europe."
Cook mentions that the regulator's opinion falsely alleges that Ireland offered Apple preferential treatment in taxation and states that the claim lacks both factual and legislative grounding.
"We never asked for, nor did we receive, any special deals," Cook underlines.
This situation is peculiar for Apple, as it was ordered to pay retroactive taxes to a government that has declared that the company paid its dues in fair amount.
Cook goes on to add that the Commission's initiative has a "wide-reaching" impact, as it virtually aims to replace Ireland's taxation system with what the Commission considers the law should be. Not only does this directly sabotage the sovereignty of a member state of the European Union, but it creates a dangerous precedent for business certainty in Europe.
The Apple CEO notes that one harmful effect of the ruling strikes deep in the investment and job creation in the EU. By putting the Commission's theory into practice, companies in Ireland in particular and Europe in general could expect to be subjected to taxation laws that never existed. This is dangerous, as it undermines the predictability that global corporations rely on when opening businesses overseas.
Cook affirms that Apple has a firm commitment to Ireland and the enterprise plans to expand its investments in the country. He ends his open letter by referencing the legal principles "upon which the EU was founded" and restates his hope that that they will prevail.
In November last year, Apple announced that it is looking forward to expand its operations in the Southern Ireland province of Cork, where the company already has a development campus.