Two days after the European Commission ruled that Apple should pay 13 billion euros ($14.5 billion) in back taxes to the Irish government, CEO Tim Cook hit out at the decision, calling it “total political crap.” In an interview with the Irish Independent, the Apple boss also said he would “love” to see the Irish government launch an appeal against the ruling.
“I think we'll work very closely together, as we have the same motivation. No one did anything wrong here and we need to stand together. Ireland is being picked on and this is unacceptable,” Cook said.
On Tuesday, after a nearly 3-year-long investigation, the European Commission ruled that the tax benefits accorded to the U.S. tech giant in Ireland flouted the bloc’s stringent rules against state aid, and were thus illegal.
Cook, however, disputed the commission’s finding that Apple had, in effect, paid corporate tax at a rate of just 0.005 percent in Ireland in 2014.
“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 $400m. We believe that makes us the highest taxpayer in Ireland that year,” Cook told the Irish Independent.
Although both Apple and the Irish government are expected to appeal the ruling, the company will still have to deposit the money in an escrow account — something Cook confirmed in his interview.
In a separate interview with the Irish broadcaster RTE, Cook said Apple paid income tax at a rate of 26.1 percent globally.
“Some people would say that that should be higher and some might say it should be lower. I’d be the first to say that the tax system needs to be reformed and that it should be made simple and straightforward,” Cook said. “But it should be talked about going forward, not in a way that retrofits the law to what others wish it was.”
He also added that Apple had provisioned “several billion dollars” from its profits in 2014 for repatriation to the U.S., which would then be used to fulfil the company’s tax liabilities in the country.
“We paid $400m to Ireland, we paid $400 (million) to the U.S. and we provisioned several billion dollars for the U.S. for payment as soon as we repatriate it and right now I forecast that repatriation to occur next year,” Cook said.