Apple’s €13bn Irish tax case timeline

40-year saga of how a valued foreign investment unravelled

Apple claimed it was singled out as a convenient target. Photograph: Stephen Lam/Reuters

1980: Apple sets up a manufacturing centre in Cork.

1991: Ireland granted first "tax ruling" to Apple, according to the EU, to determine what profits of the company's Apple Sales International and Apple Operations Europe units in Ireland are payable in this country.

2007: Apple's tax agreement in Ireland is replaced by a second "tax ruling", according to the EU, on the two Irish-based units.

May 2013: US senators John McCain and Carl Levin label Ireland a tax haven for multinational companies such as Apple during hearings in Washington on tax avoidance. The California-based company is accused of avoiding billions of dollars in US taxes by sheltering profits in Irish "ghost companies", which didn't pay taxes anywhere.


May 2013: Apple says it had paid an effective tax rate of less than 2 per cent in Ireland over the previous 10 years.

May 2013: McCain and Levin reject the contention by Ireland's then US ambassador, Michael Collins, that the State is not a tax haven. The senators said: "Most reasonable people would agree that negotiating special tax arrangements that allow companies to pay little or no income tax meets a common-sense definition of a tax haven."

June 2013: The EU begins to quiz Ireland, Luxembourg and Netherlands on the legality of various tax deals with companies, including Apple's arrangements in this State.

October 2013: Minister for Finance Michael Noonan outlines plans to ensure Irish-registered companies cannot be "stateless" for tax purposes, closing off a loophole that was used for many years by Apple.

June 2014: The EU opens a formal investigation into Apple's tax affairs in Ireland.

September 2014: The EU issues preliminary findings, saying Apple's tax arrangements were improperly designed to give the company a financial boost in exchange for jobs in the State.

November 2015: During a trip to Dublin, Apple chief executive Tim Cook says that EU investigation will not affect Irish operations, as the company unveils plans to add 1,000 jobs.

August 2016: The EU issues its final decision on the Irish-Apple case, saying the Republic must recover up to €13 billion in back taxes from the company.

September 2016: Dáil approves then Fine Gael minority government’s decision to appeal EU decision, with appeal filing made in November to EU’s General Court.

December 2016: Apple appeals EU decision, saying it was singled out as "convenient target".

September 2018: Government concludes provisional collection of €14.3 billion from Apple, including interest, with the amount put into escrow pending outcome of litigation surrounding the case.

September 2019: General Court in Luxembourg, the EU's second-highest court, holds two days of oral hearings on the case.

July 2020: General Court delivers its ruling.

May 2023: Apple tells hearing at European Court of Justice that it is paying €20 billion in tax to the US on the same profits that the European Commission argues should be subject to back taxes of €13.1 billion in Ireland.

November 2023: A key adviser to the European Court of Justice recommends that the EU’s highest court set aside 2020 ruling by General Court that the commission had failed to prove that the tax was owed at all. In his opinion, advocate general Giovanni Pitruzzella said the General Court committed a series of errors of law and also failed to assess “certain methodological errors” relating to Apple’s Irish tax liabilities. Mr Pitruzzella proposes that the ECJ refer the case back to the General Court for a new decision on the merits.

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan is Markets Correspondent of The Irish Times