Apple and Ireland will argue that the EU kept them in the dark during a tax probe

Apple and Ireland are preparing appeals to argue that European Union (EU) competition investigators unfairly kept them in the dark during a probe that ended in a record 13 billion-euro ($14.6 billion) tax bill, reports Bloomberg, quoting unnamed “people with knowledge of their case.”

The Cupertino, California-based company and the nation contend that the EU neglected to flag a shift in emphasis in the investigation, according to the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Bloomberg says that EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager’s team insists there was never a U-turn and that it kept Apple and Ireland up to date with developments from the time the probe was opened in 2014 through Aug. 30 -- when Ireland was ordered to claw back the proceeds of alleged sweetheart tax deals.

The EU, Europe’s anti-trust and consumer investigation agency claims that Ireland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands have attracted investment and jobs by helping big companies avoid tax in other countries, including EU members. The commission suspects Ireland was too lenient in rulings it gave to Apple and which helped the company shield tens of billions of dollars in profit from taxation. At 12.5%, Ireland’s corporate tax rate beats the U.S. rate of 35%. However, participating companies don’t pay that 12.5% under the double Irish structure.

Tim Cook has branded the European Commission ruling “total political crap.” Apple’s CEO also suggested the "retroactive" tax bill was an attempt by the EU to grab taxes owed to the U.S. treasury and harmonize tax rates across the 28-nation bloc.