An adviser to the top court in Europe has asserted that the EU tribunal committed legal mistakes in its ruling favoring Apple in a 13-billion-euro ($14 billion) tax dispute and should reconsider the case. This development could pose a challenge for the iPhone manufacturer.
The tax dispute involving Apple was a component of the European Union’s antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager’s efforts to address what regulators viewed as unfair state aid resulting from agreements between multinational corporations and EU member states.
In 2016, the European Commission asserted that Apple had derived benefits from two Irish tax rulings spanning over 20 years, resulting in an artificial reduction of its tax liability to as little as 0.005% in 2014.
The European Union’s General Court, in 2020, upheld Apple’s objection, contending that regulators had not met the legal criteria for demonstrating that Apple had received an unfair advantage.
However, Advocate General Giovanni Pitruzzella, at the European Court of Justice (CJEU), held a contrary opinion. He proposed that CJEU judges should invalidate the General Court’s decision and remand the case back to the lower tribunal for reconsideration.
In a non-binding opinion, he stated that the General Court’s decision concerning the ‘tax rulings’ provided by Ireland to Apple should be annulled. He argued that the General Court had made several legal mistakes and had failed to properly evaluate the essence and implications of specific methodological errors that, according to the Commission’s decision, had marred the tax rulings. Consequently, Pitruzzella recommended that the General Court should conduct a fresh evaluation of the case.