LONDON (AP) — Apple may end up being responsible for paying billions of euros in back taxes to Ireland, as an adviser to the European Union’s top court has given a legal opinion on the ongoing tax dispute.
Advocate General Giovanni Pitruzzella stated that a lower court decision, which ruled that the U.S. tech giant does not have to repay 13 billion euros ($13.9 billion) in taxes, should be set aside.
The case has sparked strong reactions from Apple and former U.S. President Donald Trump. Apple’s CEO Tim Cook described it as “total political crap,” while Trump referred to European Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, who led the campaign against special tax deals, as the “tax lady” who “really hates the U.S.”
In 2020, the General Court of the European Union disagreed with the European Commission’s accusation that Apple had struck an illegal tax deal with Irish authorities to pay extremely low rates.
Pitruzzella advised the European Court of Justice to “set aside the judgment and refer the case back to the General Court for a new decision on the merits.”
He added that the General Court “committed a series of errors in law” and needs to “carry out a new assessment.”
The opinions of the ECJ are not legally binding, but are often followed by the court. The Court of Justice is expected to make a legally binding decision next year.
Apple expressed gratitude to the court for its consideration and stated, “The General Court’s ruling was very clear that Apple received no selective advantage and no State aid, and we believe that should be upheld.”
The European Commission declined to comment. Its tech crackdown has expanded to include antitrust investigations into Apple’s payment platform and its App store, as well as stricter scrutiny under new digital rules aimed at making competition fairer.