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Ireland: EC to appeal General Court’s judgment; tax rulings held not selective tax advantages, arm’s length principle

Ireland: EC to appeal General Court’s judgment

The European Commission (EC) has decided to appeal a July 2020 judgment of the EU General Court in a case regarding Irish tax rulings that were issued in favor of the taxpayer (a multinational corporate entity headquartered in the United States).

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The appeal will be filed with the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).

The judgment (July 2020) of the EU General Court annulled the EC's decision (August 2016) when the EC found that Ireland had granted illegal state aid to the taxpayer through selective tax breaks. The case relates to tax rulings granted by the Irish Revenue in 1991 and 2007 confirming the basis for the attribution of taxable profits to Irish branch operations of the multinational group companies.

The case is: Ireland v. Commission (Case T-778/16, 15 July 2020) and Apple Sales International and Apple Operations Europe v. Commission (Case T-892/16, 15 July 2020)

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According to today’s EC release:

The General Court judgment raises important legal issues that are of relevance to the Commission in its application of State aid rules to tax planning cases. The Commission also respectfully considers that in its judgment the General Court has made a number of errors of law. For this reason, the Commission is bringing this matter before the European Court of Justice.

Making sure that all companies, big and small, pay their fair share of tax remains a top priority for the Commission. The General Court has repeatedly confirmed the principle that, while Member States have competence in determining their taxation laws taxation, they must do so in respect of EU law, including State aid rules. If Member States give certain multinational companies tax advantages not available to their rivals, this harms fair competition in the European Union in breach of State aid rules.

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