In context: Apple got a free ride in Ireland and the European Union got wind of it. A European court decision has forced Ireland to take the backtaxes from Apple, which has paid the $16.7 billion sum, in the hopes it will buy itself time to appeal to higher instances.
For the past couple of years, a war has been raging between the head beancounters of the European Union, the Republic of Ireland and Apple. The TL;DR is that Apple got massive tax breaks to set up shop in Ireland, and has paid next to nothing (less than 1% corporate tax) over billions of dollars of business carried out in the European Union, which the European Union considers to be an unfair advantage over the competition.
Of course, EU officials declared this deal between the Republic of Ireland and Apple Inc. to be illegal. Neither Ireland nor Apple believed taxes were owed, as Apple had brought thousands of jobs and some degree of economic prosperity to the country.
Fast-forward to 2018 and, in February, the European Union ordered Ireland to collect on the taxes it believes are due, plus interest. Begrudgingly, Ireland has been in the process of collecting this money from their tech overlords and today received the last instalment of the €13.1 billion, plus €1.2 billion in interest (that's $16.7 billion), in taxes.
Irelands' Finance Minister, Paschal Donohoe, was quick to explain the country had been held at gunpoint by the European Union and forced to take the money, "the government fundamentally disagrees with the Commission’s analysis in the Apple State Aid decision and is seeking an annulment of that decision in the European Courts, as committed members of the European Union, we have always confirmed that we would recover the alleged State Aid." reported FT.com.
With this, the Republic of Ireland will no longer be 'held in contempt' of the EU governing body, and Apple will see its day in court go away... Both Ireland and Apple Inc. plan to appeal to have the decision overruled and the money returned to its 'rightful' owner, Apple.
This is the kind of thing you'd expect to see on an episode of HBO's Silicon Valley. Unfortunately, it's real - albeit absurd - life.