Apple under fire for Australian profit-shifting scheme that moved $9 billion in untaxed profit to Ireland

Image of CFO Oppenheimer and CEO Cook

Image of CFO Oppenheimer and CEO Cook

Following the announcement that Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer will be retiring in September, the Australian Financial Review has uncovered evidence of a scheme that it says has allowed Apple to move around $9 billion in untaxed Aussie profit to Ireland. The program has allowed Apple to get away with paying only $200 million in taxes on $8.9 billion in profit over the past ten years or so.

Here’s how the whole thing works: Apple has created an Ireland-based company known as Apple Sales International which contributes money toward the research and development budget in Cupertino. This allows the company to legally claim an economic stake in these products and gives ASI partial ownership of the intellectual properties that comprise Apple’s products.

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France hits Apple with 5 million euro bill for unpaid taxes on 2011 iPad sales

Tim-Cook-WTF-01In the midst of the U.S. government’s interest in Apple and other large multinationals that “avoid” paying taxes in the U.S. or repatriating funds stored abroad, RudeBaguette.com notes that the French society of authors, composers, and music publishers (SACEM) has announced that Apple owes around 5 million euros in unpaid taxes.

The funds apparently come from unpaid royalties on iPad sales for 2011 that France and other EU countries, such as Germany, collect for devices capable of transferring and displaying copyrighted material:

To give a bit of a background, the copie privée is a tax in several countries including France & Germany that is applied to all digital devices that can transfer, read, or otherwise make use of copyrighted material. The tax goes to the SACEM, which then takes the lump sum of all the taxes collected and deals them out to authors, creators, producers, actors, etc. accordingly… the problem here isn’t so much the tax, but that Apple actually charged the consumers this tax, and didn’t pay it out to the SACEM.

The news comes as reports claim France is beginning to crack down on tax schemes of large companies with plans to force  Apple, Google, and others to disclose details of foreign business activities and tax practices: Read more

Apple publishes recommendations on tax reform ahead of Senate hearing on offshore tax practice

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Apple today has published its testimony proposing corporate tax reform and detailing the company’s tax practices ahead of CEO Tim Cook’s appearance at a Senate hearing on offshore tax practices scheduled for tomorrow.

In the testimony, Apple proposed what it called comprehensive corporate tax reform that should: Be revenue neutral, eliminate all corporate tax expenditures, lower corporate income tax rates; and implement a reasonable tax on foreign earnings that allows free movement of capital back to the US.

While some Subcommittee members may have differing views on these tax policy matters, Apple hopes the Subcommittee will see that these recommendations aim to create meaningful change and go well beyond what most US companies propose. As both a pioneer and participant in the American innovation economy, Apple looks forward to working with the Subcommittee on its efforts to encourage comprehensive reform of the US corporate tax system. Apple appreciates the opportunity to appear before the Subcommittee to contribute constructively to this important debate.

Apple also detailed the company’s current tax practices and noted it “made income tax payments to the US Treasury totaling nearly $6 billion – or $16 million per day.” Apple points out that, at a rate of 30.5%, that accounts for around “$1 out of every $40 of corporate income taxes collected by the US Treasury last year.”

Apple continued by commenting on its recent decision to borrow $17 billion in debt instead of repatriating offshore funds to help fund its shareholder return: Read more

Tim Cook discusses taxes before Tuesday’s visit to Congress: ‘Apple does not funnel domestic profits overseas’

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Yesterday Politico reported that Tim Cook will appear before Congress next week to testify in a hearing regarding how the company is handling its overseas finances and domestic taxes, and today Politico has published a brand new interview with the Apple CEO.

Tim Cook and Apple tend to avoid any public discussion aside from comments during quarterly earnings calls, but it seems the company is on a PR offense leading up to next week’s public hearings.

“We don’t have a large presence in Washington, as you probably know, but we care deeply about public policy and believe creative policy can be a huge catalyst for a better society and a stronger economy.”

Cook went on to defend Apple against any accusations that may come its way next week.

“I can tell you unequivocally Apple does not funnel its domestic profits overseas. We don’t do that. We pay taxes on all the products we sell in the U.S., and we pay every dollar that we owe. And so I’d like to be really clear on that.”

The Apple CEO also noted the company’s $100 million project to produce a Mac line in the United States this year, which the company says will add jobs to the economy. Read more