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Senators Levin, McCain accuse Apple of exploiting offshore tax havens

updated 07:11 pm EDT, Mon May 20, 2013

Apple to be used as example of corporate tax avoidance in US

In the wake of Apple's published testimony, US Senators Carl Levin (D-MI) and John McCain (R-AZ) have released their own joint statement on the work of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. "Apple Inc. has used a complex web of offshore entities -- including three foreign subsidiaries the company claims are not tax resident in any nation -- to avoid paying billions of dollars in U.S. income taxes," Levin's office writes.

"Apple wasn't satisfied with shifting its profits to a low-tax offshore tax haven," Levin himself is quoted as saying. "Apple sought the Holy Grail of tax avoidance. It has created offshore entities holding tens of billions of dollars, while claiming to be tax resident nowhere. We intend to highlight that gimmick and other Apple offshore tax avoidance tactics so that American working families who pay their share of taxes understand how offshore tax loopholes raise their tax burden, add to the federal deficit and ought to be closed."

"Apple claims to be the largest U.S. corporate taxpayer," says McCain, "but by sheer size and scale, it is also among America's largest tax avoiders. A company that found remarkable success by harnessing American ingenuity and the opportunities afforded by the U.S. economy should not be shifting its profits overseas to avoid the payment of U.S. tax, purposefully depriving the American people of revenue. It is important to understand Apple's byzantine tax structure so that we can effectively close the loopholes utilized by many U.S. multinational companies, particularly in this era of sequestration. I have long advocated for modernizing our broken and uncompetitive tax code, but that cannot and must not be an excuse for turning a blind eye to the highly questionable tax strategies that corporations like Apple use to avoid paying taxes in America. The proper place for the bulk of Apple's creative energy ought to go into its innovative products and services, not in its tax department."

The statement mentions that on Tuesday, in addition to CEO Tim Cook, other Apple executives giving testimony in front of the Senate will include CFO Peter Oppenheimer and tax operations head Phillip Bullock. Non-Apple witnesses will include Harvard professor Stephen Shay and Villanova professor J. Richard Harvey, as well as Treasury Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy Mark Mazur, and IRS Director of Transfer Pricing Operations Samuel Maruca.



By Electronista Staff
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  1. jameshays

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 03-10-03

    If its illegal, arrest them. If not. Shut up.

  1. jameshays

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 03-10-03

    "purposefully depriving the American people of revenue"

    Apple has created more jobs and more industries in the last several years than anybody ever imagined. I don't think they've deprived anybody but the leachers sucking uncle sam dry. Taxing corporations doesn't add to the American people's revenue, it takes away from it.

    Point in case. I'm a business owner. Not a billion dollar company like apple, but we do well. Taxed at 35%, who do you think really pays those taxes? I increase the price of my product, just like everybody else to pay that tax. Now, if my tax rate goes up to 40%, do you really think I'm going to skip a few lunches to make up the difference? No, my price (YOUR PRICE) goes up as well.

  1. RobOnTheCape

    Senior User

    Joined: 01-16-04

    I call Bullsh&%t on the above comment. No one likes taxes, but that's the deal. Apple is awash in cash, and now we know why. This shows that Apple is no better, in fact worse than many of the other corporate giants out there in spending huge sums to dodge paying even larger sums.

  1. Flying Meat

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: 01-25-07

    That is always the claim, isn't it? That increasing the taxes, or depending on perspective, requiring payment as due, will harm the economy and the individual. Historical facts be damned.

    That isn't to say I agree with the points being made by these senators. I think that if indeed moneys were shifted out of the US to avoid paying taxes, that is wrong and there should be penalty, but to my understanding, the money held overseas is money that was made overseas, and "re"patriation isn't a strict requirement of corporate tax code.
    If there is a need to repatriate the cash, then taxes could be a reasonable assumption. The amount, well... I think there is room to negotiate for less than the 35%.

    So, for the corporations that raise the price of products to offset the taxes they should reasonably expect to pay as a matter of course, the person that pays the taxes then is the consumer, who is taxed on their wages, taxed on their purchases AND taxed to cover the cost of the taxes due from those corporations.
    That seems fair, right? So you're admitting to cheating consumers out of your fair share of the taxes. Nice. Your parents must be proud. To me, that seems prison worthy, and shows an ethical level on par with slime mold.

    Call me crazy.

  1. ryanjo

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 10-22-01

    Gee, a bunch of business guys who are smarter than the IRS and a load of US Senators. Now there's a surprise!

  1. AKWintermute

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 05-20-13

    Yeah, give the congress more money so the can NOT pass any meaningful legislation for another 4 years, while wasting everyone's time with these great committees. Maybe the should call a vote to repeal the health reform act again, and not pass a budget again, that seems like a good use of time.

  1. panjandrum

    Junior Member

    Joined: 12-01-04

    I have an otherwise very moral and upstanding relative who works "high up" for huge corporations. Basically, all big companies do this, period, end of story. He sees nothing wrong with this because "all the corporations do" (which, of course, simply makes them all in the wrong, but try telling that to a business-person). And they will keep doing it until the PEOPLE making these decisions are not shielded by being part of "corporations". It's not Apple who cheats the system like all other giant corporate scum, it's really PEOPLE who made these decisions. People who should tried in court and penalized accordingly. Will it happen in the USA? Probably, eventually, but maybe not until we have terrible, likely violent civil unrest. Remember Ford and their Pinto fiasco? How can we live in a civilized country and not put the PEOPLE responsible for that decision on trial for murder? It's a terrible sickness and it screws everyone save the privileged few.

  1. Mike Wuerthele

    Managing Editor

    Joined: 07-19-12

    I find it hard to muster sympathy for either side, to be honest. Washington fritters away more money than that daily. I'm so tired of the machine grinding away and getting nowhere, but making an awful lot of noise in the process.

    Feds, just like the crabby ones today, set the rules at the behest of corporations and the allmighty lobbyist dollar. Don't like it? Tough. Change the rules, if they can. I bet they can't.

  1. jeffnudi

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 11-08-00

    They need to get more money from other sources so they can give bigger breaks to the big oil guys who finance their campaigns.

  1. Peter Bonte

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 08-27-01

    The money is not earned in the US, i don't see why it needs to be taxed in the US.

  1. efithian

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 04-21-04

    No wonder my AAPL stock has increased 150 times over the past 20 years ;-)

  1. DiabloConQueso

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 06-11-08

    Also remember that they're not singling Apple out -- Microsoft and hp were grilled and questioned in the same fashion previously over the same type of thing, and made out to be "poster children" for this type of corporate behavior.

    It's not like these companies are taking money earned in the US and shipping it overseas to avoid taxes. The large majority of the money held outside the US was earned outside the US, and it seems that these senators are just pissy about, "Bring the money here so we can tax it, otherwise you're a tax-dodger!"

    Many people seem to think this is some sort of stereotypical "Swiss bank account" type behavior, but it's not. At least not on the surface. Only time will tell what behavior is uncovered, if anything at all.

  1. Laphroaig

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 06-09-08

    Does anyone still pay any attention to these stupid sideshow senate hearings anyway. They will do something about this issue just as soon as they start locking up banksters who launder money for drug cartels. In other words when hell freezes over.

  1. darkelf

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 11-21-03

    It's cute when Senator McCain becomes a tool of the tax-the-evil-corporations-to-death zealots.

  1. localnet

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 02-06-05

    If they are doing anything illegal, prosecute them. This dog and pony show is insulting. And you all wonder why so many companies have moved overseas?

  1. Flying Meat

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: 01-25-07

    It's cute when the opposition uses inflammatory rhetoric to name a nebulous group of interested parties.

  1. Flying Meat

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: 01-25-07

    I do wonder why so many companies have moved overseas. Pretty sure it has to do with the cost of labor. I don't think it has much to do with dog and pony shows though.

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