If you haven’t yet read Apple CEO Tim Cook’s letter taking aim at the European Commission regarding the decision that he called “an effort to rewrite Apple’s history in Europe, ignore Ireland’s tax laws and upend the international tax system in the process” — well, you should.
Apple may now indeed be the largest taxpayer in Ireland, the United States and the world, but Cook said: “The commission’s move is unprecedented, and it has serious, wide-reaching implications.”
Cook's letter is a scathing one against the commission, slamming the decision to try to recoup $14.5 billion in taxes, which he refuted, saying, “We don't owe them any more than we've already paid.”
This comes after the commission released its opinion that Apple received special treatment on taxes in Ireland. This allegedly occurred through what the commission characterized as a bogus shell company established to collect the bulk of Apple’s international profits as a way to skirt taxes. Perhaps adding more fuel to the fire, the commission said that the $14.5 billion is limited or capped due to certain statutes.
Flat out, Cook said, “this claim has no basis in fact or in law,” because no special deals were received, nor asked for.
Cook’s letter begins with a "once upon a time"-esque story of Apple’s expansion into Europe more than three decades ago. Starting in Cork, Ireland — which is known for the Blarney Castle and the Blarney Stone, which gives the “gift of gab” when kissed — back in the fall of 1980, the company opened the doors on a small factory, hiring just 60 employees, during a time of high unemployment. Fast forward to current times at that same location, where 6,000 employees now work. Some of them, Cook said, were part of the original 60.
All during this time, he said, Apple has followed Irish tax laws.
Cook goes on to widen the radius of impact Apple has made from those early days in Cork, which “helped create and sustain more than 1.5 million jobs across Europe.” He said that Apple has not only directly contributed to the health of the economy by employing workers directly but by creating more need for manufacturing jobs, small businesses and other suppliers related to Apple products. “Countless small and medium-size companies depend on Apple, and we are proud to support them.”
Ireland Finance Minister Michael Noonan called the decision "bizarre,” going so far as to say that Ireland doesn’t even want the money, despite the massive windfall it would create. Noonan strongly defended the integrity of his country’s tax system and went further to confirm plans to appeal the decision.
Cook’s letter piggybacked on Noonan’s decision to appeal, adding: “We are confident that the commission’s order will be reversed.”