The Irish government has won a European Union court victory, meaning Apple won't have to pay it almost $15 billion in back taxes. Europe's second-highest court, the Grand Court in Luxembourg, overturned an earlier ruling that Ireland had given the company illegal tax breaks, the Irish Times reports. Apple also appealed the 2016 ruling, which found that the company had been paying a corporate tax rate of 0.0005% on its European profits. The decision could still be appealed to Europe's highest court, the Court of Justice of the European Union, so it might be up to three years before there is a final verdict on what Apple CEO Tim Cook called a "maddening" ruling.
The European Commission had argued that Apple paid the extremely low tax rate by using two shell companies in Ireland to report its Europe-wide profits, but the Irish government said it had not given the company special treatment, the AP reports. "One rather curious feature of this case is that if the ruling had gone the other way, and Ireland had been on the losing side, its 'punishment' for breaching EU law would have been to receive a large amount of money: taxes the Commission said were owed by Apple," writes Andrew Walker at the BBC. He notes that while the Irish government feels losing the revenue is worth it, because it will help attract companies to the country, "the sentiment is far from universal." (Read more Ireland stories.)