Apple Inc. executives have contacted Obama administration officials to complain about a European Union ruling mandating the technology giant pay $14.5 billion in back taxes to Ireland, the White House said Tuesday, arguing that it too is concerned about the fairness of the ruling.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the administration is also worried about the fairness of the ruling, and said Apple representatives have talked to some in the Obama administration about the case. But he wouldn't say who from the government side was involved, and said only that he thought President Obama was not directly involved.
"What I can say is that Obama administration officials have heard from officials at Apple that are concerned about the way they are being treated by a foreign government," he said.
Earnest declined to say what advice officials offered, but indicated that administration officials are trying to mitigate Apple's tax liability in the ruling. He said the decision as it stands now could simply result in "a transfer of revenue from U.S. taxpayers to the EU."
The EU on Tuesday said Ireland gave Apple too many tax breaks, and has ordered the company to pay the unpaid taxes to the tune of $14.5 billion. Apple and Dublin have countered that the tax deal complied with Irish and European law, and they plan to appeal the ruling.
Earnest also signaled that the ruling could have consequences for U.S. investment in Europe. A U.S. Treasury spokesperson said Tuesday that it could undermine "the important spirit of economic partnership between the U.S. and the EU."
EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager has said the rate that Apple was paying in Ireland — some 0.005 percent in 2014 — was completely unjustifiable.
"Tax rulings granted by Ireland have artificially reduced Apple's tax burden for over two decades, in breach of the EU state aid rules. Apple now has to repay the benefits," Vestager told a news conference.