The recent decision in the Apple case illustrates the European Commission’s general approach to advance tax rulings that member states’ tax authorities have granted to taxpayers. The trend is to find that the tax savings resulting from these rulings is state aid and subject to recovery by the commission, even if this comes at the expense of a taxpayer’s legitimate expectations.
The Apple decision, however, also exhibits some peculiarities that distinguish it from other famous commission rulings that apply state aid rules. These departures stem from characteristics of the Irish advance tax ruling itself and from the EU’s core principles regarding the allocation of power between member states and between the state authorities and the EU. The appeals lodged by the Irish government and companies in the Apple family are based on these arguments.
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