Apple CEO Tim Cook has responded to a European Commission ruling that the company should pay €13bn in unpaid tax to the Irish government by accusing the EC of targeting Apple and putting jobs at risk.
"Beyond the obvious targeting of Apple, the most profound and harmful effect of this ruling will be on investment and job creation in Europe," he wrote in an open letter to the Apple community in Europe.
"Using the EC’s theory, every company in Ireland and across Europe is suddenly at risk of being subjected to taxes under laws that never existed."
Cook added that the EC is trying to "rewrite Apple's history in Europe, ignore Ireland's tax laws and upend the international tax system in the process".
He also rejected claims that Apple cut a special tax deal with the Irish government.
"The opinion ... alleges that Ireland gave Apple a special deal on our taxes. This claim has no basis in fact or in law. We never asked for, nor did we receive, any special deals," Cook wrote.
"We now find ourselves in the unusual position of being ordered to retroactively pay additional taxes to a government that says we don't owe them any more than we've already paid."
The letter went on to claim that Apple should pay the bulk of its taxes in California where nearly all of its research and development is carried out.
"European companies doing business in the US are taxed according to the same principle. But the EC is now calling to retroactively change those rules," Cook said.
The Irish government also opposes the judgement, believing that it would affect the country's ability to attract technology companies and the high-value, well-paid jobs that they bring.
Cook was speaking after the ruling caused an outcry among politicians in the US.
House of Representatives speaker Paul Ryan described the decision as "in direct violation of many European countries' treaty obligations" and "precisely the kind of unpredictable and heavy-handed taxation that kills jobs and opportunity".
The EC's investigation into Apple's tax affairs in Ireland was launched in June 2014 following claims that the company funnelled all its sales and profits in the EU via Ireland, taking advantage of a special deal struck with the Irish government in 1991.
The deal provided tax incentives for the company to locate in the country so that it paid a dramatically lower rate of tax on profits than Ireland's already low 12.5 per cent corporate tax rate.
Other companies, including storage vendor EMC and PC maker Dell, also took advantage of similar deals to locate regional operations in Ireland.
EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager said that Apple paid just one per cent tax on its European profits in 2003 and 0.005 per cent in 2014.
The EU claimed that the tax incentives amount to unapproved state aid, and were therefore illegal, and has told the Irish government to recover back taxes estimated at around €13bn.
It is unclear whether the EC will extend the investigation, and the demands for back payments, to other companies that have located in Ireland or, indeed, elsewhere in Europe.
Many companies, such as Amazon, were enticed to set up head offices in Luxembourg with similar kinds of deals and incentives at the same time as the current president of the EU, Jean-Claude Juncker, was Luxembourg's prime minister.
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