DUBLIN, July 15 (Reuters): Apple scored a major win on Wednesday as Europe's second-highest court rejected an EU order for the iPhone maker to pay 13 billion euros ($15 billion) in Irish back taxes, dealing a blow to the bloc's attempts to crack down on sweetheart tax deals.
In its order four years ago, the European Commission said Apple benefited from illegal state aid via two Irish tax rulings that artificially reduced its tax burden for over two decades - to as low as 0.005 per cent in 2014.
"The General Court annuls the contested decision because the Commission did not succeed in showing to the requisite legal standard that there was an advantage for the purposes of Article 107(1) TFEU1," judges said, referring to EU competition rules.
They said the EU executive was wrong to say Apple's two Irish subsidiaries - Apple Sales International (ASI) and Apple Operations Europe (AOE) - had been granted a selective economic advantage and, by extension, state aid.
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