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'Political crap': Tim Cook slams EU's $14.5B ruling against Apple

The iPhone maker was handed a tax bill of 13 billion euros on Tuesday, with the European Commission ruling against Apple's tax deal in Ireland.

CEO Tim Cook, at an Apple event in 2015.
James Martin/CNET

Tim Cook has made it clear he'll be fighting Apple's $14.5 billion tax penalty from the European Union tooth and nail.

"It's total political crap," the Apple CEO told the Irish Independent.

Apple has a deal with Ireland to locate much of its earnings there in return for creating jobs. The deal results in Apple paying a far lower tax rate than the 35 percent corporate rate in the US. Both Apple and Ireland intend to appeal the EU's ruling.

"No one did anything wrong here and we need to stand together," Cook said to the Independent. "Ireland is being picked on and this is unacceptable."

Ireland's tax rate is 12.5 percent, but the European Commission claims Apple paid an effective corporate tax rate of 0.005 percent in 2014. EU law regulates the tax deals individual countries can give multinational corporations.

"The Commission's investigation concluded that Ireland granted illegal tax benefits to Apple, which enabled it to pay substantially less tax than other businesses over many years," said Commissioner Margrethe Vestager.

Cook rejects this.

"In the year that the Commission says we paid that tax figure, we actually paid $400 million. We believe that makes us the highest taxpayer in Ireland that year," he said.

It's the CEO's second public reaction to the ruling. On Tuesday Cook wrote an open letter to Apple customers in Europe.

"The Commission's move is unprecedented and it has serious, wide-reaching implications," he wrote. "It is effectively proposing to replace Irish tax laws with a view of what the Commission thinks the law should have been."