The European Commission will soon rule that Apple illegally received tax benefits from the Irish government, Financial Times reports. EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager reportedly circulated a 130-page ruling for official release tomorrow, concluding that Ireland’s tax deals with Apple (as well as other US companies) constituted unlawful state aid to a select group of businesses. Apple will reportedly be called on to pay back taxes that, according to the source, could total “billions of euros” — Bloomberg quotes an estimate of up to $19 billion, although The Irish Times suggests it could go as low as €100 million, or around $112 million. The decision is likely to be appealed by both Apple and the Irish government.
Tomorrow’s ruling concludes one chapter of an investigation that’s been running since 2014, when EU officials began scrutinizing tax deals made in 1991 and 2007. They suggested that Ireland calculated reduced taxes for Apple, letting it pay a fraction of the country’s already-low 12.5 percent tax rate. The EU made similar complaints about several other multinational corporations, alleging that Fiat, Starbucks, and Amazon had also gotten special treatment from various European countries. The Commission ruled against Fiat and Starbucks last year, although both companies have appealed the decision, and issued a preliminary condemnation of Amazon’s tax deal with Luxembourg.
Apple has previously settled a tax fraud case in Italy, but CEO Tim Cook has repeatedly denied that the company avoids paying taxes. “I hope that we get a fair hearing. If we don’t, then we would obviously appeal it,” he told The Washington Post last week. “The structure we have was applicable to everybody, it wasn’t something that was done unique to Apple. It was their law.”