An Irish legislative committee is reportedly optimistic that Apple CEO Tim Cook will accept an invitation to attend a late January hearing, which will examine the European Commission's ruling that Ireland must collect $14.5 billion in back taxes from the iPhone maker.
An invitation to Cook and other high-level Apple executives was sent out by the chairman of the Oireachtas Finance Committee, John McGuinness, the Irish Times said. Defending and explaining the ruling will be the European Union's Commissioner for Competition, Margrethe Vestager.
After a lengthy investigation, the Commission concluded in September that Ireland offered preferential tax breaks to Apple, something constituting illegal state aid — under E.U. law, such breaks have to be offered to all companies equally. Similar decisions have been rendered against other countries and businesses.
Both Apple and the Irish government are contesting the ruling. While the latter nominally stands to benefit, it's believed to be concerned about scaring away other multinational corporations, which could take jobs and other economic benefits with them. Apple has already vowed to stay in the country, and even expand its footprint.
The company has insisted that it did nothing wrong and simply followed the law. It and other businesses have long used Ireland as a tax haven, however, exploiting loopholes to pay slim amounts on millions or billions in international revenue. At least some of those loopholes are now being closed.