Tim Cook: Europe is trying to ‘rewrite Apple’s history’ after order to pay €13bn in missed taxes

Apple CEO Tim Cook has written an open letter to Apple customers in defence of the news that the European Commission (EC) says that the company needs to pay back €13 billion in taxes that it owed but didn’t pay in Ireland.

The EC’s decision came early Tuesday, following a three-year investigation, and ruled that:

“The European Commission has concluded that Ireland granted undue tax benefits of up to €13 billion to Apple. This is illegal under EU state aid rules, because it allowed Apple to pay substantially less tax than other businesses. Ireland must now recover the illegal aid.”

Cook wasted no time in responding with an open letter pointing out that Apple had chosen to invest in Ireland and set up a European base there long before tax arrangements became the focus of its presence there.

“The European Commission has launched an effort to rewrite Apple’s history in Europe, ignore Ireland’s tax laws and upend the international tax system in the process. The opinion issued on August 30 alleges that Ireland gave Apple a special deal on our taxes,” Cook said. “This claim has no basis in fact or in law. We never asked for, nor did we receive, any special deals. 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.”

While the situation as presented by Cook there does indeed sound strange, this is by no means the first time that Apple has come under fire for its tax arrangements. Citizens for Tax Justice said last year that Apple would owe billions more in domestic tax if it didn’t hold money off-shore.

Obviously, Apple says that all its tax arrangements are entirely above board.