An adviser to Europe’s top court has stated that an EU tribunal made legal errors in its ruling in favor of Apple over a 13-billion-euro tax order. The adviser suggests that the case should be reviewed again, potentially posing a setback for the iPhone maker. The tax case against Apple was part of the EU’s crackdown on deals between multinationals and EU countries that were seen as unfair state aid. In 2016, the European Commission claimed that Apple had benefited from Irish tax rulings that artificially reduced its tax burden. However, the European Union’s General Court upheld Apple’s challenge in 2020, stating that regulators had not met the legal standard to prove unfair advantage. The adviser, Giovanni Pitruzzella, disagrees with this ruling and believes that the case should be referred back to the lower tribunal. The Court of Justice of the European Union will make the final ruling in the coming months. Ireland maintains that it provided no state aid to Apple. Despite appealing against the tax order, Apple has already paid the full amount, which has been held in an escrow account by Ireland. The Irish government anticipates that other EU member states will make claims for a share of the back taxes. Apple spokespersons argue that the General Court’s ruling confirmed that the company received no selective advantage or state aid. Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s antitrust chief, has had mixed success defending her tax cases in court. However, her decision against a Belgian tax scheme for 55 multinationals was upheld by the General Court in September. Vestager is currently investigating tax arrangements involving Inter IKEA, Nike, and Huhtamaki. The case against Apple is known as C-465/20 P Commission v Ireland and Others.
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