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Apple refuses invitation to European Union tax evasion hearing

Apple has turned down an invitation to speak in front of a European Parliament committee, looking to avoid any missteps that could affect its chances of appealing a previous ruling.

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"It is important to ensure public commentary does not prejudice those proceedings," said Apple's senior director of European government affairs in a Friday letter seen by Reuters. "Since the appeal is ongoing and likely to be heard at the General Court in the near future we will not be able to participate in a public hearing on this topic as it could be detrimental to the proceedings at the Court and any potential appeals thereafter."

The lawmaker who shared the letter, Sven Giegold, argued that Parliament should withdraw Apple's lobby badges because of its refusal to appear.

The company just recently made its first payment into an escrow account, designed to hold money on the chance appeals by Apple and the Irish government are successful.

The European Commission originally ordered Ireland to collect back taxes in August 2016, but the country missed a January 2017 deadline has been threatened with court action for its slow progress. On Friday, the Commission reiterated its position that it's willing to withdraw a lawsuit once money is fully collected.

The 2016 ruling, issued after a lengthy investigation, found that Ireland had extended preferential tax treatment to Apple, considered illegal state aid under European law. The company is said to have paid 1 percent on funneled international profits in 2003, and just 0.005 percent in 2014.

Apple and the Irish government have denied any wrongdoing, the former insisting multiple times that it simply follows local laws. At the time of the ruling, however, Ireland was infamous for its tax loopholes, and the government has been accused of reverse-engineering rules on the fly to keep Apple happy.

Irish finance minister Paschal Donohoe has suggested that appeals could be heard in the fall.