The world’s biggest company, Apple, has been found “guilty” of flouting European Union tax regulations.
This past week, Apple was ordered to pay a whopping £11 billion – or 13 billion Euros.
Apple is expected to pay for its operations in Ireland. The EU found that Ireland had been giving the company tax breaks far above and beyond any other company.
For example, the EU said Apple was allowed to pay a maximum tax rate of just 1%.
In 2014, the tech firm paid tax at just 0.005%. The usual rate of corporation tax in Ireland is 12.5%.
The investigation into Apple’s tax dealings in Ireland started three years ago.
The EU said Ireland’s tax arrangements with the company between 1991 and 2015 had allowed it to attribute sales to a “head office” that only existed on paper and could not have generated such profits.
The result was that Apple avoided tax on almost all the profit generated from its multi-billion euro sales of iPhones and other products across the EU’s single market.
It booked the profits in Ireland rather than the country in which the product was sold.
However, in a recent exclusive interview with the Washington Post, Tim Cook explained his company’s position, saying:
“Let me explain what goes on with our international taxes. The money that’s in Ireland that he’s probably referring to is money that is subject to U.S. taxes. The tax law right now says we can keep that in Ireland or we can bring it back. And when we bring it back, we will pay 35 percent federal tax and then a weighted average across the states that we’re in, which is about five percent, so think of it as 40 percent. We’ve said at 40 percent, we’re not going to bring it back until there’s a fair rate. There’s no debate about it. Is that legal to do or not legal to do? It is legal to do. It is the current tax law. It’s not a matter of being patriotic or not patriotic. It doesn’t go that the more you pay, the more patriotic you are”.
(On a side note, you should read the full interview. It is a great insight into the mind of the Apple CEO and his vision for the company).
After the recent ruling by the EU, Tim Cook immediately hit back saying the ruling was “total political crap” and “maddening”. (His words, not ours).
“It’s disappointing, it’s clear that this comes from a political place, it has no basis in fact or in law, and unfortunately it’s one of those things we have to work through.”
“When you’re accused of doing something that is so foreign to your values, it brings out an outrage in you, and that’s how we feel. Apple has always been about doing the right thing,” Cook added.
Apple and Ireland will be appealing the ruling.
Whatever your take on it, these are definitely interesting times, especially as Apple is set to launch the next range of iPhone(s) in the coming weeks.
We’ll be watching this closely.