Apple CEO Tim Cook met Margrethe Vestager, the European Commission's (EC's) competition commissioner, to discuss an ongoing probe into the U.S. company's tax arrangements in the region.
Cook met Vestager in Brussels on Thursday to defend Apple's tax activities in Ireland, and subsequently published information on the number of jobs Apple supports in the region: some 22,000 directly and at least a million more through the company's app ecosystem, Bloomberg reported.
Vestager this week said she would continue an investigation into Apple's Irish tax arrangements that was started by her predecessor Joaquín Almunia in 2014. The current competition commissioner argued that the probe into Apple, and a separate investigation of Google's European tax deals, was necessary as part of efforts to ensure a level playing field in the region's digital market.
Cook met with Vestager a week after Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Matt Larson estimated that Apple could face a bill of $8 billion (€7.3 billion) in back taxes if the EC investigation goes against the iPhone maker.
Alex Cobham, director of research at the Tax Justice Network -- an independent global network of tax experts -- told Bloomberg that precedents set by similar EC investigations could leave Apple facing a tax bill equivalent to 10 percentage points on profits of at least $100 billion over the past 10 years.
The news agency reported that Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny denied claims Ireland is offering a tax haven to Apple in return for creating jobs in the country.
When the investigation was opened, Almunia explained that it was important that multinational companies "pay their fair share of taxes" and that "national authorities cannot take measures allowing certain companies to pay less tax than they should if the tax rules of the Member State were applied in a fair and non-discriminatory way."
The EC is concerned that Apple bases its Irish tax payments on operating profit rather then net profit, which leads to a lower amount, Bloomberg explained.
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