The White House has voiced concern over economic consequences of the European Commission’s order for the Apple Company to pay billions in unpaid taxes, saying the move could threaten the long-sought fairness of the international tax system.
"We are concerned about a unilateral approach... that threaten to undermine progress that we have made collaboratively with the Europeans to make the international taxation system fair," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said in a press briefing on Tuesday.
Describing the move as unfair to US taxpayers, Earnest added that the administration of US President Barack Obama had repeatedly reiterated its "willingness to go and fight for" American taxpayers and American businesses overseas, which were being "treated unfairly."
The comments were made after the European Union ordered the US tech giant to pay some 13 billion euros (14.5 billion dollars) of unpaid taxes to Ireland.
Brussels accused Apple of avoiding tax payment for its business in Europe through illegal arrangements with Dublin.
Dublin has also been accused of collaboration with Apple to evade taxes. Apple and the Irish government immediately said they would appeal against the 28-nation bloc’s ruling, with the company warning it could cost European jobs.
The US Treasury Department also slammed the EU’s move, saying, "We believe that retroactive tax assessments by the Commission are unfair, contrary to well-established legal principles and call into question the tax rules of individual member states,"
The case could "threaten to undermine foreign investment, the business climate in Europe, and the important spirit of economic partnership between the US and the EU," the department added.
"Treasury is disappointed that the Commission is acting unilaterally and departing from the important progress the US, the EU, and the rest of the international community have made together to combat tax avoidance," it concluded.
The European Commission (EC) is expected to rule on the case next month. This is the biggest corporate tax avoidance investigation ever undertaken by the commission.
The EC is the executive body of the EU, responsible for implementing decisions, proposing legislation, upholding the EU treaties and managing the day-to-day business of the bloc.
A 2013 report by the US Senate confirmed that Apple has paid little to no taxes on at least $74 billion of the profit it earned by exploiting Irish and American tax laws.
Tim Cook, who became Apple’s CEO after the death of its founder Steve Jobs five years ago, has denounced the case as “political crap.”
“There is no truth behind it,” he said. “Apple pays every tax dollar we owe.”
The EU estimates that tax avoidance by multinational corporations costs member states anywhere between $50 million to $78 billion a year in lost taxes.
In addition to Apple, other American companies like Amazon and Starbucks are also suspected of tax evasion.