Apple wins landmark battle with EU over $15 billion tax bill

Apple on Wednesday was handed a major victory by Europe’s second-highest court, which rejected a European Union order for the tech giant to pay $15 billion in back taxes.

It is the culmination of a tax battle that has been raging since 2016, when the European Commission ruled that Apple had artificially reduced its tax burden when it received illegal benefits from the Irish government allowing it to slash its rate as low as 0.0005 percent in 2014.

The EU’s General Court, however found that the EC “did not succeed” in proving that Apple had been given special treatment by the country.

European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said she would study the court’s judgment and consider possible next steps. The Commission can appeal on points of law to the EU Court of Justice, Europe’s top court.

Ireland — which had appealed against the Commission’s decision alongside Apple — said it had always been clear it had not given special treatment to the tech giant.

Apple welcomed the ruling, insisting in a statement that the case was not about how much tax it pays, but where it is required to pay it.

“We’re proud to be the largest taxpayer in the world as we know the important role tax payments play in society,” the Cupertino, Calif.-based company said in a statement.

Shares of Apple were up 1.7 percent in pre-market trading, at $394.85.

With Post wires.