back to article US Congress excoriates Apple's tax-avoidance shenanigans

A US Senate investigation has found that Apple avoided billions of dollars in taxes through a complex scheme of subsidiaries scattered around the globe, some with no employees and run by top execs back in its Cupertino headquarters. "Apple wasn't satisfied with shifting its profits to a low-tax offshore tax haven," said …


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  1. Anomalous Cowturd

    Sniffing the air...

    The usual corporate shenanigans.

    As ye sow, so shall ye reap. (Tax free)

    1. LarsG

      Tax Laws

      Are made using advisors from all the large worldwide accountancy firms just like here in the UK.

      HMRC/Governments are advised by companies such as KPMG and PwC so it is inevitable that loop holes and clever accounting practices are built in to the rules.

      Both KPMG and PwC and others have permanent liaison staff with the Revenue departments.

      So basically it is all bent from the begining, built in to the system from the ground up to benefit large corporations.

      Tax is not meant to apply to the rich or big business, it's there only for the little people to pay.

  2. William Donelson

    I love Apple products and design, but they are CROOKS

    I love Apple products and design, but they are CROOKS, along with most other large corporations and super-rich asshats.

    As long as the rich can steal from the American people, especially with tax breaks invested in our competitors oveseas, things will get worse and worse.

    Stop the rot now.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      IT Angle

      Round Island One ...

      Google on `Round Island One' + Ireland ...

  3. McBeese
    Thumb Down

    It's YOUR Fault, McCain

    "McCain also said that Apple is "purposefully depriving the American people of revenue" by using a "byzantine" tax structure"

    John McCain - if Apple is doing anything illegal, charge them. If Apple is not doing anything illegal, then the problem is not Apple or their peers, it's the tax code, and YOU and your peers need to fix it. THAT IS *YOUR* JOB, ISN'T IT?

    Remember, The Apple execs have a fiduciary duty to maximize shareholder value. They can be sued by their shareholders if they don't take advantage of available tax benefits.

    So McCain, stop your whining and get back to work. Charge Apple or roll up your sleeves and fix the tax code. Okay?

  4. David Kelly 2

    Not Unpaid

    Apple did not fail to pay taxes on earnings. Apple paid full due where the earnings were generated when the earnings where generated. Now foolish politicians want another 35% cut as penalty for bringing the bacon home.

    The same fools who will borrow money from China and pay interest to finance a "stimulus" when Apple would bring money home and spread it around if only Washington would quit stomping on their toes and skimming off the top. Plus you know full well Apple can do more good with $1 than the Federal Government can do with $100.

    Meanwhile the UK shouldn't complain because a lot of Apple's offshore funds are being invested in the UK where they were earned rather than in the USA.

  5. Bhairava
    Thumb Down

    IRS Ironies

    You have to love the sheer arrogance of US tax rules. The US has one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world and claims the right to tax any money a US company makes, anywhere in the world, even if all the production work is done somewhere in Italy and the product is sold by an Irish sales rep to an Egyptian customer. As a result, everyone sets up foreign subsidiaries. I can see the gripe if one of the subsidiaries is a paper company, but understand that the easiest way to fix that is to move actual operations and jobs to, for example, Ireland, the way other companies have. Also, understand that those foreign subs won't pay much corporate tax to anyone. They're set up to break even and pay their profits as dividends to the US parent company, at which point the tax will be paid by the US company to the IRS, then taxed again as income to shareholders. Isn't that what the IRS wants? Apparently it's not good enough.

    But what about those fat cat shareholders? Actually, by far the largest class of shareholders in companies like Apple are pension funds. And if the retirees aren't getting a reasonable return on their 401(k)'s I guess they'll probably rely more on ... oops ... social security and government safety net programs. Plus the funds will have to get more aggressive with riskier investments. If they fail (as some did in the last two recessions), there is always some politician ready to raise taxes again to relieve the pensioners. The fun never ends.

    Sure, I've oversimplified and ignored some semi-valid counter-arguments. But if El Reg wants to start opining on tax policy issues, I have to dumb it down a little. I don't spout off about servers, because it's specialized tech, and I don't know squat about them. International tax is at least as specialized and technical. Think first.

  6. hungee

    Clearly not abiding by the spirit.

    I love the partisan bickering Americans use to get stuck into each other.

    Hey this random company avoids paying tax "legally" but clearly with a loose connection to ethical behaviour. What is the response, YOU TAX TOO MUCH/ THESE PEOPLE ARE CROOKS/ IT IS LEGAL SO WHY WOULDNT THEY? / TAX IS THEFT!

    reality? Politicians have screwed you and these same politicians are now protesting loudly in public about how those darned companies use these various loop holes inserted for this exact reason, by aforementioned politicians in return for campaign contributions.

    Easy fix? Clean out loopholes, create a taxation rule that states any U.S. company that uses transfer pricing, et al - must pay a total tax burden of 35% subtracting tax that is paid overseas. So if they pay 10% in Timbuktu then they must pay 25% to repatriate the wealth to U.S./international shores. Everyone gets paid, it nullifies dodgy tax structures and we can all go back to discussing the merits of their overpriced hardware or widgets...

    Then we can all have a beer on the house...

  7. Alex Gollner

    If Apple spent more in Washington, they'd be under less pressure

    Apple doesn't fund political campaigns as much as its competitors.

    Politicians have much less to lose by going after Apple compared with other large companies.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Please pay your taxes ..

    A US Senate investigation has found that $COMPANY has avoided billions of dollars in taxes through a complex scheme of subsidiaries scattered around the globe, some with no employees and run by top execs back in its $LOCATION headquarters. $COMPANY also failed to pay it's fair share of donations to capitol hill, said senator Jethro Orrin Beaver (the third), of Hicksville, Nowhere USA.

    Meanwhile we have the supposed leader of this country writing to our own offshore tax havens, asking them if they wouldn't mind awfully paying their taxes.

  9. Kevin Johnston

    One thing puzzles me...

    From the various reports in the more financial style media, they mention that some of the Irish 'entities' in this tax labrynth are not classed as resident in any jurisdiction for tax liability. I can understand setting up a company in a low tax environment but just how in the hell is it possible to create a company with NO country taking tax from it.

    As for the idea that they have observed both the letter and the spirit of the law, well...the letter maybe but they have driven a fleet of cash-laden tanks through the spirit of the law.

    Definitely time for some simplification of tax law as the less it says, the harder it is to 're-interpret'.

    1. P. Lee

      Re: One thing puzzles me...

      I'm not sure about the particular Irish arrangement, but often the rules are that you don't have to pay tax on foreign earnings.

      I guess you set up an Irish company which only does business with foreign corporates. Likewise, Ireland could be served quite well by shipping from the UK.

      I have noticed that everyone is on the tub-thumping bandwagon. I'm not sure how the US expects to tax Apple's income when the UK, France, Germany etc all want their shares too.

      In the end, its just political theatre for the public. Interestingly, I've noticed that most people realise this. Until you limit the power of the few to fund politics, you won't get much of a change.

      I notice there's little talk of the UK IR35 solution: we don't care about your corporate structure or costs - we're just going to tax you however we feel like.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    apple, tax avoidance MUST be a lie!

    and I thought of them as nice and cute and honest and patriotic and.... Hang on, that was MS, not Apple!!!! Or was it Google.... or Amazon...? It can't be true that they're all fat, greedy bastards, there must be SOMEBODY out there playing "fair", right? Like... politicians, that's right! Or.... the banks! They know how to play fair, I'm sure!

  11. Gordon Pryra

    Merkin politicians doing the Same as the UK ones

    Tub Thumping for affect on TV for Votes with no intention of changing anything.

    Tim Cook will take the stage and get his verbal slaps, its part of the contract of big business with the Governments.

    They wont change the status quo as long as a big name is willing to get a public slap to keep the plebs in line.

    The legislators make money from the tax schemes in place (Look at our own hypocritical bitch Margaret Hodge)

    They will never change things and will continue to have public charades like this right up until the electorate gets itself educated, off benefit and start to give a shit about how people in power are laughing at them and treating them like retards

  12. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    Apple CFO trousers $68m

    Ever wondered why?

    Yes folks a subsidiary domiciled nowhere for tax purposes hence no one to pay tax to.

    This is truly the Special and General Theory of Relativity of tax dodging "income protection."

    Mr CFO I salute you.

    You'd all do it if you could (and believe me if it's still legal next year a bunch of super rich 'mericans will)

  13. Stratman

    The accountants are better than the lawmakers

    IF (process is illegal) THEN PROSECUTE ELSE STFU

    1. Robert Helpmann??

      Re: The accountants are better than the lawmakers

      Perhaps not...


      CALL check_process

      IF /i .%process%.==.illegal. GOTO PROSECUTE



      CALL legal_beatdown


      REM It never ends, but let's put it here just for form's sake


  14. shawnfromnh

    Get rid of it

    Just dump the income tax code altogether since there are so many loopholes it would take a decade or more if the congress even tried to actually fix it.

    Instead replace it with a 15 or 20 percent sales tax and you get a flat known return from all products sold including imports from companies that pay no US income taxes now.

    With this system there would be no reason to hide money since it won't be taxed unless you bought something.

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