Monday 25 March 2019

US senators accuse Apple of using Irish arm to avoid tax

Apple CEO Tim Cook. Photo: Reuters
Apple CEO Tim Cook. Photo: Reuters

John Breslin and Peter Flanagan

APPLE has been accused by two of America's most senior politicians of using Ireland to help cut its global tax bill to almost zero.

The head of the world's biggest technology company faces a grilling in Washington today over what politicians there claim are "gimmicks" used to get around US tax laws.

Apple paid almost no tax on earnings of more than $100bn over four years, US Senator Carl Levin and former presidential candidate John McCain claimed last night.

The news threatens to be the latest blow to this country's international standing in the wake of UK investigations into Google's tax affairs.

One Apple subsidiary incorporated in Ireland paid no tax anywhere on a staggering $30bn of revenue between 2009 and 2012, the senators claim.

And a second incorporated in Ireland paid a tiny fraction – just five hundredths of one per cent in 2011 for example – on total reported income of $74bn over the same period.

The claims come ahead of the senate hearing today that will look at Apple's tax activities and its relationship with Ireland going back over three decades.

The US senators published an explosive 40-page report last night, outlining what they claim is Apple's use of Ireland and its different tax system to the US to avoid paying huge amounts of tax.

Apple's Tim Cook is due to mount a strong defence at the public hearing today in Washington.

He will say that Apple pays more US tax than any other corporation, has a real presence in Ireland with 4,000 workers, and will deny the use of "gimmicks" to get out of paying a proper share of tax.

"Apple does not move its intellectual property into offshore tax havens and use it to sell products back into the US in order to avoid US tax; it does not use revolving loans from foreign subsidiaries to fund its domestic operations; it does not hold money on a Caribbean island; and it does not have a bank account in the Cayman Islands," Apple said in a statement last night.

But the company admitted that its Irish subsidiary, Apple Operations International, has no presence or employees in Ireland and pays no tax here as a result, but neither is it tax resident in the US.

It is the kind of legal tax scheme that is infuriating political leaders in the US and in the UK desperate to tax the profits of big corporations.

It is even claimed that Irish authorities negotiated with Apple to cut the effective rate it pays in tax in some cases to just 2pc – a fraction of the standard 12.5pc.

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Irish Independent

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