Apple head: Apple picks Freshfields to handle ‘political crap’

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Apple CEO Tim Cook isn’t pulling any punches when it comes to what he thinks about his company’s €13 billion (US $14.5 billion) tax bill – he called it “total political crap.”

In an interview with the Irish Independent, Cook claimed that Ireland was being “picked on” in an effort to establish more uniform tax rates in Europe. He also denied EU claims that Apple paid just 0.005% in taxes in Ireland in 2014, according to a Law.com report.

“They just picked a number from I don’t know where,” Cook said. “…We actually paid $400 million. We believe that makes us the highest taxpayer in Ireland that year.”

Apple has used Freshfields before when it’s been annoyed – last time it was suing Samsung for getting too close to the iPad’s design. That time, however, Apple lost the suit.

The European Commission has been investigating Apple since 2013, according to Law.com. This week, the commission ruled that the companies tax arrangements with Ireland constitute illegal state aid. But Cook’s not the only one who thinks that ruling is wrongheaded. Irish finance minister Michael Noonan said he disagreed “profoundly” with the ruling, according to Law.com.

“Our tax system is founded on the strict application of the law without exception,” Noonan said.

Apple isn’t the first major US corporation to come under the EU’s microscope. It’s ordered the Netherlands and Luxemburg to collect about $30 million each in back taxes from Starbucks and Fiat Chrysler, respectively, according to Law 360. Amazon and McDonald’s are also being investigated.

But the EU’s investigations have drawn the ire of the US government. Last week the US accused Brussels of becoming a “supranational tax authority,” according to Law.com. The US government said it would consider retaliating if the EU continued hounding US companies for unpaid taxes. And the Senate finance committee has recommended that the Treasury double the tax rates on European companies if Apple is ordered to pay back taxes in Ireland, Law.com reported.

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