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Senate Accuses Apple of Not Paying Billions in Taxes

By - Source: Senator Carl Levin | B 32 comments

Here we go again.

Senators Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) said on Monday that Apple is funneling funds through its subsidiaries in Ireland so that the company isn't required pay billions in taxes. Now Apple CEO Tim Cook must appear before Congress on Tuesday to talk about the company's taxes and offshore profits.

According to the press release, a bipartisan investigation by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations has discovered that Apple has used a "complex web" of offshore entities to avoid paying billions of dollars in U.S. income taxes. Three of these foreign subsidiaries are not tax resident in any regain, Apple claims.

"The subcommittee, which previously explored tax avoidance by other multinational corporations using offshore subsidiaries, found similar practices at Apple," the Senators said. "In addition, the subcommittee review discovered an unusual tax scheme:  Apple’s claim that two key offshore companies are not tax residents of Ireland, where they are incorporated, or of the United States, where Apple executives manage and control the companies.  One of those Irish subsidiaries has paid no income taxes to any national tax authority for the past five years."

Sen. Levin said that Apple "sought the Holy Grail of tax avoidance" by creating "offshore entities holding tens of billions of dollars" that Apple claims to be "tax resident nowhere". The Senate intends to highlight that gimmick and other Apple offshore tax avoidance tactics so that tax-paying, working American families understand how offshore tax loopholes raise their tax burden, and add to the federal deficit.

"Apple claims to be the largest U.S. corporate taxpayer, but by sheer size and scale, it is also among America's largest tax avoiders," said Sen. McCain. "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."

Meanwhile, Apple has already acknowledged that it has a subsidiary in Ireland, but it doesn't use "tax gimmicks" to save a buck.

Apple isn’t the first American corporation to come under fire for avoiding taxes by pushing funds offshore. A September 2012 hearing explored how Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard used "dubious" strategies to avoid billions in U.S. taxes. The Senate's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations said that tax avoidance is running rampant in the technology sector. Tech companies like Microsoft and HP have reportedly stashed away their intellectual properties, royalties and licensing fees in "overseas tax havens" to skirt government taxes.

Microsoft supposedly shifted $21 billion to offshore accounts from 2009 to 2011, almost half of its U.S.-based retail sales revenue. Thus, the Redmond company saved up to $4.5 billion USD in taxes on goods that were sold here in the States. The company reportedly even moved royalty revenue of units to low-tax nations to avoid paying billions to the U.S.

The Senators claim that Apple is using a "cost sharing agreement" to transfer valuable intellectual property assets offshore and shift the resulting profits to a tax haven jurisdiction. It's also accused of negotiating a tax rate of less than 2-percent with the government of Ireland and using Ireland as the base for its extensive network of offshore subsidiaries. That's significantly lower than that nation’s 12-percent statutory rate.

The full 40-page story from the Senate can be read here via Scribd.

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Top Comments
  • 13 Hide
    zubikov , May 21, 2013 1:16 PM
    Or in other words: "congress wastes taxpayer money to deliberate in excruciating detail the degree to which they don't understand the tax code that they signed off on."
  • 10 Hide
    ddpruitt , May 21, 2013 12:58 PM
    I don't like Apple as much as the next guy but they're playing by the rules. Make US tax law easier to deal with if you want don't want people going overseas. If the US Senate is really concerned about the money they're losing from the people that are paying for the office they hold then they should just drop the corporate tax rate and simplify the tax code, not only would the US companies bring their overseas accounts over but they'd pick up a few others as well.
Other Comments
  • 2 Hide
    bigshootr8 , May 21, 2013 12:46 PM
    This is interesting however as much as I dislike apple they are not doing anything illegal they are allowed to place there money elsewhere to avoid having to pay taxes. People everyday do things to minimize the amount of taxes they will take on this isn't illegal if its within code its within code. If anything I would like to see companies brought in for suing over patents left and right and getting over it.
  • Display all 32 comments.
  • 10 Hide
    ddpruitt , May 21, 2013 12:58 PM
    I don't like Apple as much as the next guy but they're playing by the rules. Make US tax law easier to deal with if you want don't want people going overseas. If the US Senate is really concerned about the money they're losing from the people that are paying for the office they hold then they should just drop the corporate tax rate and simplify the tax code, not only would the US companies bring their overseas accounts over but they'd pick up a few others as well.
  • 0 Hide
    devotiecon , May 21, 2013 1:00 PM
    In other news, Apple sues the US government for not minding it's own business.
  • 0 Hide
    zubikov , May 21, 2013 1:04 PM
    Or in other words: "congress wastes taxpayer money to deliberate in excruciating detail the degree to which they don't understand the tax code that they signed off on."
  • 0 Hide
    dietrich1 , May 21, 2013 1:10 PM
    i don't understand how subjective the tax code is. like you either owe your fair share or you don't. no accusations required. just look at the evidence. make a simple T chart, if they owe, they owe. if they don't, they don't. enough of this drivel fueled by partisanship.
  • 0 Hide
    dietrich1 , May 21, 2013 1:10 PM
    i don't understand how subjective the tax code is. like you either owe your fair share or you don't. no accusations required. just look at the evidence. make a simple T chart, if they owe, they owe. if they don't, they don't. enough of this drivel fueled by partisanship.
  • 0 Hide
    smokeybravo , May 21, 2013 1:14 PM
    We're such small men in such a big game. Instead of violence and coersion, those in power are subduing the masses through friendliness and an abundance of cheap pleasures. The only voice you have is the dollar in your pocket, and it's a very very quiet voice. Besides, who's to say we wouldn't do the same? This is the world we live in.
  • 13 Hide
    zubikov , May 21, 2013 1:16 PM
    Or in other words: "congress wastes taxpayer money to deliberate in excruciating detail the degree to which they don't understand the tax code that they signed off on."
  • 0 Hide
    Anomalyx , May 21, 2013 1:26 PM
    US taxes global income, not just US income. Moving money to other countries to hide from the IRS is tax dodging, plain and simple.
  • 0 Hide
    becherovka , May 21, 2013 1:26 PM
    They might not doing anything illegal in the USA, however they are in places like Australia (and others I just cant remember what ones). The other thing is this needs to get stamped out and the US senate is a good place to start. The way the economy is in the world company's that are hording cash and not paying tax's is really make any "world" recovery difficult. Its not just Apple, but why not target the biggest first.
  • 0 Hide
    becherovka , May 21, 2013 1:29 PM
    Hell I should not add a comment before my morning coffee..
  • 0 Hide
    popatim , May 21, 2013 1:41 PM
    Might as well try to Collect that billion Warren Buffet owes too. LMAO! Like thats going to ever happen; he's got Obama in his pocket.
  • 0 Hide
    internetlad , May 21, 2013 1:49 PM
    No way apple would never do that, they're the most honest and philanthropic company there is!
  • 0 Hide
    Osmin , May 21, 2013 1:51 PM
    Since the Supreme Court has made it legal for companies to spend unlimited funds to buy an election, in return they have made tax loop holes available to avoid paying taxes for all wealthy Americans and companies alike. The Congress and the Senate could easily end the Tax Loop Holes, which are primarily for the wealthy tax cheaters, but only talk about how it would be a form of a tax raise. The wealthy only pay for what they want to pay because they have the power to elect whoever they want in office to make sure they pay less than what is expected. Since insider stock trading is legal for senators and congressmen alike, they showed a very cooperative partnership with Wall Street during every financial crisis because they want special treatment too. Who can get elected in the federal branch without the money to put attacking ads on TV to sway voter opinion or to show that they exist? 20/20 showed years ago that 1% of the wealthiest Americans sue the IRS every year and that the IRS settles for 7% of what they really owe the Federal Government. Only the diminishing middle class must make up for the lost revenue from these tax loop holes and all those foreign workers that are making the products we buy and taking the jobs away at the same time. They don’t even count many of the abuses in our system as part of the trillion dollar per year tax loop hole figure.
  • 0 Hide
    Osmin , May 21, 2013 1:55 PM
    Since the Supreme Court has made it legal for companies to spend unlimited funds to buy an election, in return they have made tax loop holes available to avoid paying taxes for all wealthy Americans and companies alike. The Congress and the Senate could easily end the Tax Loop Holes, which are primarily for the wealthy tax cheaters, but only talk about how it would be a form of a tax raise. The wealthy only pay for what they want to pay because they have the power to elect whoever they want in office to make sure they pay less than what is expected. Since insider stock trading is legal for senators and congressmen alike, they showed a very cooperative partnership with Wall Street during every financial crisis because they want special treatment too. Who can get elected in the federal branch without the money to put attacking ads on TV to sway voter opinion or to show that they exist? 20/20 showed years ago that 1% of the wealthiest Americans sue the IRS every year and that the IRS settles for 7% of what they really owe the Federal Government. Only the diminishing middle class must make up for the lost revenue from these tax loop holes and all those foreign workers that are making the products we buy and taking the jobs away at the same time. They don’t even count many of the abuses in our system as part of the trillion dollar per year tax loop hole figure.
  • 0 Hide
    zubikov , May 21, 2013 2:14 PM
    Or in other words: "congress wastes taxpayer money to deliberate in excruciating detail the degree to which they don't understand the tax code that they signed off on."
  • 0 Hide
    InvalidError , May 21, 2013 2:50 PM
    The stuff Apple and others is not merely "putting their money elsewhere" but exploiting a cascade of loopholes to bring their taxable revenue close to zero.
    If normal people tried to pull that off, the revenue agencies would likely clean them out. Large companies manage to get away with it because they have enough legal resources to go head-to-head against governments and probably win on technicalities.
    Companies want all the benefits of being headquartered in the USA without the tax burden that is supposed to come with it and with the financial crisis that has been going on for a while now, many people have become aware that this is not sustainable and needs to stop.
  • 0 Hide
    Cazalan , May 21, 2013 3:49 PM
    If you look at Apple's profits about 30% of them come from their tax dodging practices in recent years. When you're the size of Apple you can buy your own loop holes through their shills in Congress.
    Not only do they need to go after Apple they need to throw the book at the lobbyists that funded these loop holes in the first place, and the congressmen/women that accepted the bribes.
  • 0 Hide
    hero1 , May 21, 2013 4:53 PM
    Well, the US needs more money to keep it alive before total collapse. And, how do they do that? They go after big companies that have offshore accounts and don't pay enough tax. I say, this is the way it should have been long ago and they better tighten the grip on tax avoidance. One good example is Facebook getting back almost 1 Billion dollars in tax returns when they didn't pay anything for the past several years.
  • 0 Hide
    falchard , May 21, 2013 5:20 PM
    Funneling, another word for business expenditure. There is one thing I hate more than Apple. Its politicians demanding more in taxes.
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