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Apple counters European tax probe with a big bag of job numbers

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Half a million jobs and billions in app revenue illustrate the trickle-down benefits of Apple's EU operations

The latest promotional page added to Apple's website isn't for a new product or service, but for the company's contributions to the European economy. Citing half a million jobs "directly attributable to the App Store" and $6.5 billion in revenue for European app developers, Apple asserts that it's "created an entirely new industry" around iOS app design and development. The company also has 101 stores in eight countries on the continent — employing more than 100 people at each location — and does business with 4,500 European suppliers. In a not so subtle jab at the authorities currently investigating whether Apple is paying its due share of tax, the American giant is underscoring its influence and importance to the European economy as a whole.

"The App Store has created an entirely new industry."

At issue in the current tax probe is whether Ireland's assessment of Apple's incoming revenues grants "a selective advantage" to the company that allows it to pay less tax than it properly ought to. While there's no suspicion of illegality, the practice of aggressively minimizing the tax burden by shifting profits around between countries is well established among multinational companies and was last year estimated to cost trillions of dollars in lost state revenues. Apple has repeatedly said that it pays every dollar of tax it owes and that it plays by the same rules as everyone else. Even so, the European Commission has chosen to look more closely into Apple's accounting practices — along with those of Starbucks and Fiat — in its effort to better align the ethical and legal requirements imposed on big companies.