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Irish lawmakers gearing up for $14.5B Apple tax bill appeal amidst industry concern

While a prominent Irish businessman is decrying the $14.5 billion tax edict applied by the European Commission with strong language, members from Ireland's government have started the appeal discussion —but the process may take more time than expected to garner sufficient support from a wide body of lawmakers.

Ireland's Finance Minister Michael Noonan, a member of minority party Fine Gael, "disagreed profoundly" with the European Commission's ruling, and is dependent on other government members to back the appeal. Reuters notes that Noonan will need the support of the Independent Alliance for an appeal to succeed, and the Alliance needs time to evaluate both the ruling and the appeal.

"We will be able to make a decision but it is appropriate that we give this the time it needs" said Minister Paschal Donohoe about a possible extension of time for evaluation of the appeal. "I am very confident that this government will work its way through this issue and continue with the mandate the Irish people have given us."
"Frankly the Irish government shouldn't even appeal the decision. They should just write a letter to Europe and tell them to f*** off." - Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary
A political party opposing Noonan, Fianna Fail, will reportedly back an appeal through the European court system. Left-wing Sinn Fein also generally opposes Fine Gael, but wants the ruling to be enforced.

From a business perspective, Ryanair Chief Executive Michael O'Leary called called the tax ruling "bizarre" and believes that it won't hold up in court.

"There are certain things Europe has no competence or rights in," O'Leary told the Irish Independent. "It's one of the fundamental principles of the EU that each country has the freedom to make its own tax decisions."

"Frankly the Irish government shouldn't even appeal the decision," added the historically outspoken O'Leary. "They should just write a letter to Europe and tell them to f*** off."

The European Commission handed down a record tax penalty on Tuesday, ordering Apple to pay 13 billion euro ($14.5 billion) to Ireland in back taxes, offset if other E.U. countries seek part of the pay-out. In its investigation, the regulatory group claimed that tax rates on European profits were illegally low at 0.005 percent in 2014, and 1 percent in 2003.

"The European Commission has launched an effort to rewrite Apple's history in Europe, ignore Ireland's tax laws and upend the international tax system in the process," Apple said in a statement about the ruling. "The Commission's case is not about how much Apple pays in taxes, it's about which government collects the money. It will have a profound and harmful effect on investment and job creation in Europe."

A FAQ also posted on Tuesday spells out Apple's path to an appeal, and notes that the process will take several years to conclude.