SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- The European Union ordered Apple on Tuesday to pay nearly $15 billion in back taxes to Ireland, plus billions more in interest, in a move that dramatically escalates the fight over whether America's biggest corporations are paying their fair share around the world.
While Apple could easily afford the bill, the tech giant said it will challenge the EU decision, which found that Ireland granted a sweetheart deal that let Apple pay almost no taxes across the European bloc for 11 years. And Ireland, which has long used low taxes to attract foreign businesses, said it will stand with Apple.
"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," Apple CEO Tim Cook complained in a statement.
The White House also blasted the ruling as unfair and disruptive to its own efforts at tax reform. But the decision was welcomed by groups that have long criticized the practices used by Apple and other large companies to legally reduce their tax obligations.
The ruling was the latest in a series of aggressive moves by European officials to hold U.S. businesses, particularly big tech companies, accountable under the EU's rules on taxation, competition and privacy.
"They're going after Apple, which means a big name and big dollars," said Brad Badertscher, a corporate tax expert at the University of Notre Dame's Mendoza College of Business. "It's a big shot across the pond to U.S. companies."
Read the entire story on the Associated Press website.