|May 21, 2013, 09:44 AM||#1|
Apple CEO Tim Cook and CFO Peter Oppenheimer Testify In Front of Senate Committee on Tax Strategies [Hearing Over]
After jostling in competing memoranda yesterday, Apple and a group of U.S. Senators are prepared to go head-to-head in a committee hearing examining the tax avoidance strategies of Apple and other multinational corporations.
CEO Tim Cook, CFO Peter Oppenheimer, and Apple's head of tax operations Phillip A. Bullock will appear in front of the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigation in the second part of a committee hearing running now.
The hearing is streaming live on the subcommittee's website and below. We will be liveblogging the hearing at the bottom of this post.
Update: iOS users can view the hearing at NBCNews.
Apple yesterday released a statement laying out some of its international operations and financial strategies, noting that it paid $6 billion in federal income tax in 2012 and that it has created hundreds of thousands of jobs in the United States.
A bipartisan group of Senators responded with a statement of its own, accusing Apple of using several offshore subsidiaries to avoid paying income taxes. Said Senator Carl Levin (D-MI), "Apple sought the Holy Grail of tax avoidance. It has created offshore entities holding tens of billions of dollars, while claiming to be tax resident nowhere."
Earlier today, the Irish government -- where a number of Apple's subsidiaries are headquartered -- said that it was not responsible for the tax rates Apple pays in other countries and that its system was transparent.
Liveblog- Senator Carl Levin (D-MI), chairman of the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigation, is reading a prepared statement accusing Apple of evading billions of dollars in taxes through subsidiaries in Ireland and elsewhere. Senator Levin noted that he is an iPhone owner.
- Levin says domestic companies that are not in a position to offshore their tax burden are at a competitive disadvantage. He accuses Apple of being partially responsible for the sequester and other budget cuts because of its tax avoidance strategies.
- He says Congress should close the tax loopholes that companies like Apple use, even if they don't pass a rework of the overall corporate tax system.
- Senator John McCain (R-AZ) is now giving an opening statement. "It's important all of us make it very clear the admiration we hold for Apple." However, the company is taking advantage of a system that allows profits to be shifted and allows the company to avoid paying taxes on $44 billion in income over the past 6 years. "It's completely outrageous that Apple has avoided paying US taxes and indeed avoided paying taxes around the world with its convoluted and pernicious strategies."
- McCain: American companies cannot continue avoiding paying taxes. "Our military can not afford it, our economy can not endure it, and the American people will not tolerate it." Our tax system is broken but that is not an excuse.
- Rand Paul (R-KY) is up and saying he is "offended" by the hearing. "Tell me a politician who is up here and doesn't try to minimize his taxes... Tell me what Apple has done is illegal. I am offended by a government... that convenes a hearing to bully one of America's greatest success stories... If anyone should be on trial here, it should be Congress. I frankly think the committee should apologize to Apple."
- Instead of Apple executives, we should have brought in a giant mirror. This problem is solely and completely caused by our tax code. This committee should look in the mirror. "I find it abominable."
- Paul: I have a bill that would tax repatriated money at 5% and target that money to infrastructure. We need to apologize to Apple, compliment them for the job creation they're doing, and get on with our job and redo the tax code.
- Senator Levin is angry and fired up: Senator Paul, you can apologize if you wish but that isn't what this hearing is about. No company should be able to determine how much tax to pay and use gimmicks to pay lower taxes in this country. This subcommittee is not going to apologize to Apple. We did not drag them, they have come here willingly. We intend to hear from them and some experts.
- Tax experts from Harvard and Villanova are the first two witnesses in the hearing. Apple's executives will be the next group of witnesses.
- Professor Richard Harvey - Villanova: After reviewing their structure, I suspect... that what Apple has done is within the bounds of what is acceptable under International tax law. ... However, the statement that Apple made "Apple does not use tax gimmicks...", I nearly fell off my chair when I read that. The bottom line is that Apple had a substantial amount of income recorded in Ireland and they paid essentially no tax.
- Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) - "Who benefits from Apple's tax strategy?" Professor Harvey: The shareholders. Johnson goes on to say that corporate tax rates should be eliminated entirely and corporate income should be taxed at the shareholder level.
- Senator Paul - "Neither this panel nor anyone on the committee has said Apple has broken any laws... it would probably be malpractice for them not to do so... I don't know of anybody on this panel who tries to maximize their tax burden. Mr. Harvey, do you take any deductions on your taxes?" "No." "Do you think you're a bad person for doing that?" "Absolutely not."
- Paul - "Money goes where it's welcome... we have a 35% corporate income tax, we're chasing people away from us... we should be giving them an award today." They are obeying the law. They are doing what their shareholders have asked, which is to maximize profit. Let's not vilify American companies.
- Levin - We are trying to shine a spotlight on big companies, we are not trying to vilify them. To call this vilification misses the function of the subcommittee and misses the function of Congress. We are here to look at the functions of Government and see how they work and don't.
- Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) - I'm very proud of Apple as an American company. I use Apple products and I harangued my husband until he switched. I think Apple is utilizing the tax code we have given them.
CEO Tim Cook, CFO Peter Oppenheimer and Apple's head of tax operations Phillip A. Bullock are now appearing in front of the Senate panel.
- Cook: "I am proud to represent Apple today... I am often asked if Apple still is an American company... My answer is an emphatic yes... Much of our innovation takes place in one zip code... Cupertino, California..."
- "We estimate 300,000 jobs have been created in the U.S. because of the App Store." We've chosen to keep the design and development of our revolutionary products right here. Over the last decade, our workforce grew by fivefold. We have employees in all fifty states. Apple has created hundreds of thousands of jobs at small and large businesses that support us.
- iPhone components are made in Texas and Kentucky. Apple is responsible for creating or supporting 600,000 new jobs. We've invested billions in the U.S. to create even more American jobs. We're investing $100 million jobs to create a line of Macs in the U.S. later this year. This will be assembled in Texas, and rely on equipment and supplies from other states.
- We've invested a huge new data center in North Carolina, building more in Oregon and Nevada, a new campus in Texas and a brand new headquarters in Cupertino.
- Apple has 'real' operations, in 'real' places, with Apple employees selling real products to real customers. We not only comply with the laws but we comply with the spirit of the laws. We don't move intellectual property offshore and use it to sell products back on the U.S. Our foreign subsidiaries pull 70% of our cash because of the rapid growth of our international business. We use this money to finance construction of Apple retail stores around the world and fund production of products. It would be very expensive to bring that cash back to the United States. Unfortunately the tax code has not kept up with the digital age. We are handicapped in relation to our foreign competitors who do not have such constraints on the free movement of capital.
- We are a company of strong values. We believe our extraordinary success brings increased responsibilities to the communities where we live, build and sell our products. We believe in President Kennedy's phrase 'to whom much is given, much is required.' Apple is a champion of human rights, education and the environment. Our belief that innovation should serve humanity's deepest values and highest aspirations is not going to change.
- Apple has always believed in the simple, not the complex. You can see this in our products and in the way we conduct ourselves. It is in this spirit that we recommend a dramatic simplification of the corporate tax code. We make this recommendation with our eyes wide open, fully recognizing that this would likely result in an increase in Apple's U.S. taxes. We strongly believe that such reform would be fair to all taxpayers and would keep the U.S. competitive.
- Peter Oppenheimer: In the U.S., our operational structure is quite simple. We sell and support products through our retail stores and partners. Outside the U.S., we strive to provide the same sales in support as our customer expect in the U.S. Apple's presence in outside countries often takes the form of Apple-owned subsidiaries. These acquire products from other Apple subsidiaries which in turn buy product from Apple contract manufacturers.
- We are in full compliance with all laws and regulations. Virtually all of our R&D and the jobs that go with it, take place in the U.S. Apple and Apple Ireland use a cost-sharing R&D agreement to fund research. In return, Apple Ireland receives rights to sell products in Europe and Asia.
- For many years, our Irish subsidies have had thousands of employees in Ireland. The fact that our subsidiary does not pay taxes in Ireland does not affect our U.S. tax payments.
Cook/Oppenheimer/Bullock Q&A Beginning
- Subcommittee Chairman Levin quotes President Kennedy. Cook: President Kennedy and his brother are longtime heroes of mine. I don't believe deferral of tax payments is a sham in any way.
- Bullock in response to a question: Apple legally owns a number of subsidiaries in Ireland and overseas. It is "functionally managed and controlled" (an Irish legal term) in the United States. Our conclusions of Irish law addresses tax management and control if it takes place somewhere else. If it is managed and controlled in the U.S., we are not responsible for Irish taxes. Applying the Irish legal standard of central management and control, our Irish subsidiaries are managed in the U.S. 'Central management and control' is not a term under U.S. tax law.
- Cook: We have a significant number of employees in Ireland, but some of our most strategic decisions are made in the United States. They are functionally and practically managed in the United States.
- Bullock: U.S. taxes are paid by Apple, Inc. Cash that is distributed from our operating subsidiaries that come to the U.S., largely in terms of interest, is paid by Apple. The income of Apple subsidiaries is subject to tax in the local countries in which they operate. There is no U.S. tax on the transfer of balances from subsidiaries to other subsidiaries. Our companies pay the appropriate taxes in Ireland as per our agreement with the Irish government.
- Bullock: AOI has not filed an corporate income tax return on revenue earned overseas. Apple Inc. pays U.S. income tax on revenue it receives as a passthrough. AOI and AOE (Apple subsidiaries) own intellectual property rights to Apple IP overseas.
- John McCain questioning now. Calls Tim Cook a "tough guy". "Do you feel that you've been bullied or harassed by this committee or its members?" Cook: "I feel very good to be participating in the process. I would like for comprehensive tax reform to be passed this year. Any way that Apple can help, we're here to help." I feel that it's important for us to tell our story. I want people to hear that from me. I didn't get dragged here, sir.
- McCain: You have obviously, legally, taken advantage of the tax code both foreign and domestic. I think we agree that you are not paying the 35% tax rate that domestic companies are paying. Are you and Apple receiving an unfair advantage compared to domestic companies?
Cook: No, that's not the way I see it. Apple pays 30.5% of its profits in taxes in the United States. I don't know exactly where this stacks up relative to other companies. I think it stacks high on the list. I believe we are the top taxpayer in the United States. We do have a low tax rate outside the United States. This tax rate is for products we sell outside the United States. There's no shifting going on that I see at all.
McCain: Why does AOI exist? Why does AOI exist in Ireland?
Cook: AOI was created in 1980. The relationship between Apple and the Irish government still exists today. We've built up a significant skill base there of people who have a significant understanding of the European market. AOI is nothing more than a holding company. A holding company is a concept that many companies use. It's not an operating company. The dividends that go into this company have already been taxed appropriately in their local jurisdictions. AOI to me is nothing more than a company that has been set up to provide an efficient way to manage Apple's cash. From income that's already been taxed. The investment income that comes out of AOI is taxed in the United States at the full 35% rate. AOI does not reduce our US taxes at all.
McCain: Where is AOI, ASI and AOE a tax resident?
Cook: It is my understand that there is no tax resident for any of the three subsidiaries.
McCain: Does that sound logical?
Cook: ASI and AOE are paying Irish taxes. I personally don't understand the difference between a tax presence and a tax residence but I know they fill out and pay Irish taxes. AOI, because it's a holding company, it only makes investment income. All of that investment income is taxed in the US at the full 35% level.
McCain: If you look at the 35% tax burden, that I'm sure we're in agreement is way too high, you said the purpose of AOI is to ease administrative burdens. Isn't it obvious that you are not bearing the same tax burden as if you were bearing in the United States? This gives you some advantage over smaller companies located strictly in the US?
Cook: Sir, I have tremendous respect for you. I see this differently from you. Apple is earning these profits outside the US. By law and regulation, these are not taxable in the US. AOI invests that money overseas and then the interest from those investments is taxed in the US. I see this as a very complex topic and I'm glad we're having the discussion. Honestly, I don't see it as being unfair. I am not an unfair person. That's now who we are as a company and who I am as an individual. I do not see it that way.
McCain: I'm out of time, but why the hell do I have to keep updating the apps on my iPhone? Why can't you fix that?
Cook: We're looking to do better all the time.
- The panel is breaking for a short recess.
Senator McCaskill: If you don't tax plan, then you're incompetent as an American business. I hope I can understand better why the structure you've used has been embraced. You borrowed $17 billion, issued bonds to pay dividends to your shareholders. It was in the economic news because of your large cash reserves. You made a decision that it would be cheaper for you to service that debt and use the cash to pay dividends than to bring this cash back. Do you have the analysis that would show how much cheaper it would be than bringing the cash back?
Cook: The cost of capital is at an all-time low. Our weighted average cost of the borrowing was less than 2%. We were faced with a decision to go that route or pay 35% to repatriate. As we looked at that analysis, we felt strongly that in the best interests of our shareholders to secure the debt.
McCaskill: You negotiated a 2% interest rate with Ireland.
Cook: In part of recruiting Apple in 1980, we made an agreement with the country. They were trying to attract new tech companies. The skills of our 4,000 employees there are essential to servicing the European market. We have quite a strong presence there.
McCaskill: If Ireland recruited you and gave you a very good deal, how do we set tax policy? 3/4ths of net tech mobile growth will be in emerging markets? Do you agree with that?
Cook: A significant amount of growth will be in emerging markets.
McCaskill: If we simplify our tax code and get it down and clear out the underbrush, what keeps another country in these emerging markets from undercutting us like Ireland did?
Cook: The US has such enormous advantages and the barrier right now in terms of repatriating cash is that its at the 35% level. Our proposal is that we eliminate all corporate tax expenditures -- get to a very simple system and have a reasonable tax on bringing money back. Not 0%. I think if we did that, many companies would bring back capitol to invest in the US and it would be great in the United States.
McCaskill: What would it cost to move out of California or move entirely to Ireland or China? What keeps you from moving on a cost analysis basis?
Cook: We're an American company. We're proud to be an American company. The vast amount of our R&D is in California. We love it there.
McCaskill: It's an intangible?
Cook: It's who we are as people. We're an American company whether we're selling in China or Egypt. We're an American company. It has never entered my mind that we would move to another country. It's beyond my imagination and I have a wild imagination. It's beyond it.
McCaskill: On the bonds, I understand the business rationale. Do you think you should be able to deduct the interest on those? Would that be one of the corporate expenditures we do away with?
Cook: It could be. The way the tax code is written currently, my understand is that it would be deductible. It would be a very very small percentage of the overall tax rate we pay.
McCaskill: You decide where to allocate sale proceeds. Some of that is being made based on where the product is sold, but not all. How do you determine that? How much goes to the American company and how much goes to the International companies.
Cook: Everything we sell in the US is taxed in the US. For a foreign country, generally speaking, it is taxed in the local market and then if its one of the countries that are being served from Ireland, those units are generally sold by an Irish subsidiary. That income is taxed to the degree it needs to be in the local jurisdiction and then the proceeds go to an Irish subsidiary in many cases called AOI. This acts as a holding company and invests Apple's earnings. Then we pay taxes on those earnings in the United States.
McCaskill: Do any of the proceeds from my purchases actually get parked in Ireland under the aegis of intellectual property?
Bullock: No. 100% of the proceeds on any sale from a customer in the US is fully taxed in the US. There is no outbound payments going offshore.
Senator Johnson: This is complex. It has to do with how do you allocate income? What kind of transfer price is an appropriate price? I did notice that your US sales is 39% and 35% of income and international sales of 61% and 35% of income. Can you explain this?
Cook: Generally, Apple's Macintosh business is a larger percentage of its sales in the US than internationally. As we launch the iPhone, iPhone became a larger percentage of its business internationally than in the US because we had a nice base of Mac sales in the US.
iPhone has larger gross margin than Mac business. International business carries higher margins than US business.
Johnson: More profitable product mix outside the US than in the US?
Johnson: You get a deduction for foreign taxes paid, right?
Bullock: It's a dollar for dollar credit.
Johnson: Now Apple has a lot more money and if you repatriate it, you'll tax it a lot more. The US would be a beneficiary if we can get more money repatriated?
Bullock: Yes, if its taxed and repatriated.
Johnson: Do you have IRS employees at your company full time basically? Being audited constantly?
Bullock: We are constantly under audit in many jurisdictions around the world and they are constantly looking at our numbers.
Johnson: Can you describe your shareholders in general?
Cook: Generally, Apple is widely owned because it is part of the indexes in the stock market. Across mutual funds and pension funds.
Oppenheimer: Our top 50 shareholders own half the company. Public employee retirement systems, mutual funds like Fidelity or Black Rock, and individual retail shareholders as well.
Johnson: Even the top 50 have wide fund shareholder bases. So those folks benefit that Apple can retain more of its profits by not paying taxes to foreign governments. What other taxes does Apple generate? What can you take credit for?
Oppenheimer: We paid $325m in federal employment taxes, in addition to our employees. We've paid $100 million to state and local governments in property taxes and other fees. Last year, we collected and remitted $1.3 billion in sales tax.
Johnson: $2 billion in total. When we talk about transfer pricing, we face the same dilemma between states, don't you? Between which state claiming what income?
Bullock: The income that the company generates in the US, the company generates 40% more or less, that income does get apportioned between the states amongst a slightly different system.
Johnson: What is the difference between that and allocating between different countries?
Bullock: Some states apportion based on relative sales. Some states use a multi factor test, may look to sales, property and payroll.
Johnson: Do you negotiate between the states? Do you have more of your income allocated to pay state income tax?
Bullock: It is approximately 100%. It is not double taxed.
Johnson: But that's a similar type of problem to allocating income across multiple countries, right?
Bullock: Similar, yes.
Johnson: Talk about how you pay taxes in other countries.
Bullock: In Fiscal 2012, the company paid a little over $900 million in international income taxes. We're projecting that number to be larger this year. That number is significantly larger than a few years ago. I don't have the statistics available but similar to the US there are employer contributions to payroll tax, and considerable amount of VAT and GST that is connected and remitted to various countries.
Johnson: What of your employment is based in the US and overseas?
Oppenheimer: 2/3rds of employment is in the US. Partially because of our retail stores.
Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH): The issue of the $102 billion that is present overseas, regarding repatriation. You'd be willing to pay some rate on repatriation. As we look on tax reform, what do you think is the rate, not just for Apple but for multinational corporations around the world, if we simplify the code, what rate should we be at to be competitive?
Cook: The rate on the US sales in my judgement from most of the studies would indicate it would need to be in the mid 20's. To incentivize a huge number of companies to repatriate, it would need to be in the single digits. Some companies would need to pay a bit more, other companies would pay less. More important than all of that, it would be great for growth in this country. That's why I am so adamant about doing this.
Ayotte: You're building a new data center here, you can't use overseas cash for that, right?
Cook: Yes, we can't use our overseas cash to make any investments in the U.S.
Ayotte: If you were in our position, how important is it that we change the tax code to make this a good place for investment? What would you do? You're not the only corporation that has significant monies overseas right now.
Cook: It's vital to do, it's great for America to do. We would have a much stronger economy if we did that. It would create jobs and investment.
Ayotte: If we create more jobs and investment, that means more taxes too, right?
Cook: That's a very excellent point. All ships rise with the tide.
Ayotte: What about an issue of a territorial rate? Hopefully we will reform the code to create a better dynamic for investment, but what about a territorial rate?
Cook: The US is advantaged if more capital moves into the country. It would strengthen our economy. I don't propose zero, but a reasonable tax on doing so. Some people refer to that as territorial and hybrid. That's how I believe it should work. We don't support a temporary tax holiday. We want comprehensive reform for a long time.
Ayotte: If we create a temporary tax holiday, does that encourage long term investment?
Cook: A permanent change is better because its predictable.
Ayotte: You talked about the advantages of being in this country. One is the IP protections in the US. You have faced significant challenges in China. What would be those challenges and thinking about IP protections in the US, how would we address this with our international partners?
Cook: We've faced more significant areas in other countries than China.
Ayotte: I've heard stories about knock off Apple Stores in China.
Cook: That has clearly been an issue. I think that the US court system is currently structured in such a way that its very difficult to get the protection a tech company needs because our cycles are very fast. The court system is very long, and the foreign competitors in the US can quickly take IP and use it and ship products with it and they're on to the next product as well. I would love to see conversations between countries and see protections between IP globally. For us, our intellectual property is so important, I would love the system to be strengthened in order to protect it.
Senator Rob Portman (R-OH): If we don't reform the tax code, we're competing with one hand tied behind our back. Almost all of our industrial competitors have shifted to a territorial system including the UK, France, Germany, Japan. I think that's the right way to go. They don't tax active business income earned beyond their borders and their businesses are more competitive as a result. $1.5-$2 trillion is locked up overseas. That money is being deployed to put factories and R&D overseas. We've got to move quickly. No other nation erects such a high barrier to bringing earnings back to the US. Every one of our global competitors have reformed their tax systems since we last reformed ours. Not just the rate, but the code. If we don't reform, we'll continue to lose opportunities. We need to create competitiveness so we can get new customers overseas. Tightening rules related to IP income is important too.
65% of your revenue is overseas. Is that accurate?
Cook: 2/3rds last quarter was overseas.
Portman: How many jobs in the US are because of overseas sales?
Cook: 600,000 jobs in the US total, it's difficult to allocate those to international. Our earnings overseas have powered our company.
Portman: We want you to sell stuff overseas because it causes jobs to come here. Is Samsung one of your major competitors? Is that an American company?
Cook: Yes, they are headquartered in South Korea.
Portman is comparing the Apple and Samsung's tax rates. Bullock says those rates are accurate, but Apple and Samsung pay similar global tax rates. However, Samsung can move their funds around the world as necessary and Apple cannot.
Portman: As a result, your investment rates are more limited than Samsung. How much do you spend on tax compliance efforts?
Bullock: I don't have that but it's a lot.
Portman: You should find out. I think the Americans want to know. I am a recovering lawyer, but I think you'd do better to spend money on engineers instead of lawyers. How big is your tax department?
Bullock: Several dozen around the world, plus several dozen more in support centers.
Portman: Plus a lot of law firms and outside help as well.
Bullock: If you can encourage Peter to hire me more people, that would be helpful as well.
Oppenheimer: The tax return that I sign each year is two feet tall or greater and we are under continuous examination and much of the effort particularly with our outside advisors is related to our US tax return.
Portman: So you have high tax compliance costs and you can't invest where you want to. What would happen if we just forced you to bring money back and take a chunk of that repatriated?
Cook: Very bad, sir. Not good.
Portman: I appreciate the hearing today, we don't want to design the tax code to require you to spend too much on tax compliance. We want a level playing field, it's a needlessly complex tax system, the solution isn't to tinker with the numbers or go backwards. We should take the President up on his offer to do comprehensive corporate tax reform. I hope this hearing helps us move towards that goal.
Levin: Of course you can bring the profits home. You bring them home from South America, right?
Cook: I don't understand the question. The economic transfer for Europe is in Ireland. For South America, I would guess there is some cash in South America.
Bullock: Profits from the rest of the Americas, including Mexico and Canada and Brazil is generated by Apple, Inc.
Chairman Levin is pushing back on Bullock and Oppenheimer over the Irish subsidiaries and the cost-sharing agreement they have. Cook and Oppenheimer both say they "disagree with the characterization" of the agreement.
Levin: Of course you can bring your profits home, $100 billion is stashed away in these three Irish companies that you control but its in their legal name. Will you bring those profits home? You can bring them home, you just have to pay the tax on it. You said you wouldn't bring that money home unless we reduce those tax rates.
Cook: There's a lot there. I'd appreciate the opportunity to answer that.
Levin: Is it true that you said you would not bring that money home at those tax rates?
Cook: I don't recall saying that. I have no plans to bring those funds back.
Levin: Isn't that you saying you would not bring the money back at the current tax rates?
Cook: I have no current plans to bring those funds back at the current rates.
Levin: You have an agreement that shifts the economic rights to the most valuable thing you have to three Irish companies. That's the shift. You're selling the golden goose. You have a right to do that, just like you have a right to not shift your intellectual property from Canada, Brazil and Mexico. OK, here's where we're at. You've got profits going, $100 billion, to Ireland. You say it's your current intent to not pay your taxes on it. You say you don't need to pay taxes on them. The economic value has been shifted.
Oppenheimer: We don't agree with your characterization.
Levin: What was shifted to them? In that agreement?
Oppenheimer: It began in 1980.
Levin: I'm talking about 2009.
Oppenheimer: We have not changed things since 1980. There is important context to the agreement that started 30 years ago.
Levin: There is an agreement in 2009. Apple employees signed that in 2008. It shifted economic rights to three Irish companies under your control that don't pay taxes in the United States.
Oppenheimer: I disagree with that.
Levin: It didn't shift the economic rights?
Oppenheimer: It started in 1980 --
Levin: You talked about that. I'm talking about the 2009 agreements. Did it give any rights to those Irish companies?
Oppenheimer: It's a continuation of an existing agreement.
Levin: It continued a transfer, under Apple's control, there is an agreement that is reached with a controlled corporation. You folks agreed you controlled it. Under that agreement, which continues an ongoing agreement -- you didn't have to shift your economic property, you're in control, it's your company. You made a decision. Don't kid ourselves as to the implications as to America's revenue. I'm not saying its illegal, I'm not saying its illegal. You made a decision to shift your crown jewels that creates the profits. You made that decision to continue that arrangement in 2008 and 2009.
Oppenheimer: We went to Ireland in 1980. We've continued to do that for the last 30 years. Our systems are set up for that way, our operations are. That's why we do that today.
Levin: The result of continuing that in 2008 is that most of your profits are stored in Ireland and are not taxed.
Oppenheimer: People love the iPhone and iPad around the world.
Levin: That's not the question, people love it everywhere. But the people who live it in Canada and Mexico and Brazil, their purchases are taxed here. Not in Europe. Most of your profits which come from your brilliant intellectual property, the continuation of that system, means that most of your profits are sitting in three Irish companies that you control that don't pay taxes. That's the result. You can defend it, but that's the result. Folks, there's a huge drain as a result. You point out, Mr. Cook, that 95% of the creativity that goes into those products is in California. Two-thirds of those profits are in Ireland. You've made a decision not to bring that money home.
Cook: We're proud that that R&D is in the US. All of the profits in the United States are taxed in the United States.
Levin: I know that. And all the profits from Mexico and Canada and Argentina are taxed in the United States. But you made a decision to shift economic value overseas and the result is that most of your profits are not taxed. You're an American company. You're proud of it, we're proud of it. The result of these arrangements is that most of your profit is now in Ireland in these companies that don't exist. Of course we have to change this system. But to change it, we have to understand what is going on. What is going on is a huge loss of revenue to the United States. We've got these corporations that are able to shift profits to places where you don't pay income tax on it. We better understand that if we're going to correct it. That's our purpose here today. To shed a light on that. I hope that purpose has been achieved. We cannot continue a system where the company, a multinational company, is phenomenally as successful as yours and can make a decision, sitting down in 2008 as to where the profits will flow.
Where the R&D is 95% in the United States. You got R&D tax credits, all the benefits of living in this country. You're sitting there, unilaterally deciding whether to continue a system where profits are shifted to a place where they are not available to the American taxman. Everyone agrees that we need to change this system. In order for us to change this system, we've got to understand what is going on. You make a unilateral decision, three Apple employees in 2008, essentially decided where these profits will be taxed or not taxed. It's not right. That is not right. To leave that decision, it seems to me, the way it is decided so unilaterally, that a company can shift its value to a tax haven -- that's what Ireland is -- I know its your intention and I applaud your view. I know its not even to come in front of the spotlight. It's important for us to write the laws. You agreed Mr. Cook that we need to rewrite these laws. Thank you for coming.
Messrs. Cook, Oppenheimer and Bullock have now been excused.
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Article Link: Apple CEO Tim Cook and CFO Peter Oppenheimer Testify In Front of Senate Committee on Tax Strategies [Hearing Over]
|May 21, 2013, 09:49 AM||#4|
Another colossal waste of taxpayer money. Rather than hold hearings that amount to little more than political posturing, the lawmakers should actually do their jobs and close the loopholes.
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|May 21, 2013, 09:50 AM||#7|
GM and Ford will tear Carl Levin a new one before they allow him to close the loopholes
|May 21, 2013, 09:53 AM||#8|
These dirty liberals are just drooling at the thought of getting a chunk of that 100 billion. What a shame. This isn't what our founding fathers wanted when they formed this government.
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|May 21, 2013, 09:54 AM||#9|
Just stop for one minute and think about what's happening. Apple has been summoned to explain themselves for avoiding as much of our government's overbearing tax as possible (in a completely legal way). Our government wants to punish them anyway (or perhaps make an example of them), but since they have committed no crimes, all they can do is smear and harass Apple like this. Insanity. How long can we go on with a government like this?
Last edited by GoldenJoe; May 21, 2013 at 09:59 AM.
|May 21, 2013, 09:58 AM||#10|
Not sure what all the fuss is about, Apple is practicing tax avoidance just like every other American company. Levin going one and on about all the bad things that are happening because Apple is not paying the outrageous American taxes.... How politely can Apple say "Up yours?"
|May 21, 2013, 09:58 AM||#13|
|May 21, 2013, 10:00 AM||#14|
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|May 21, 2013, 10:01 AM||#15|
|May 21, 2013, 10:02 AM||#16|
I think the tax code should really be redone. No reason Apple should pay income taxes in the country where it made the income and then again to bring it to the US. Only time Apple should pay taxes again is for sales tax. Heck, maybe take away income tax all together and just do sales tax. I'm no economist so I don't know how that'll work, but it might be worth looking into it.
However, I feel people are so focused on maximizing profit nowadays, people & corporations need to really learn how to better themselves & other people more. Apple probably doesn't need all that money just sitting around. Why not pay higher salaries to all its employees (not just executives), invest in better machinery, training, whatever, or other reinvestments?
|May 21, 2013, 10:03 AM||#17|
Just stop for a minute and see what's really happening: Apple has not quietly tossed enough money into campaign re-election coffers. As soon as the money changes hands, the "investigation" will shift to others and/or quietly fade away.
AT&T made the same mistake a couple of decades ago, thinking the Gov would never come down on them. So the Gov flexed to teach all a lesson and AT&T is just recently getting itself re-assembled back into approx. the same level of muscle it had back then. What's different now? I bet if there was complete transparency in the books, you'd see that AT&T aggressively contributes to both parties and key campaign coffers. I'm guessing Apple might have a mindset similar to the old AT&T. And this could get bad if they don't figure it out soon.
If the Gov was serious about this problem, the solution is simple: tax money stored out of the country higher than if the companies imported the money and paid the tax. Base the taxation on the accounting reported for Wall Street rather than the set of books prepared for the IRS. If the tax was more expensive on revenues stored overseas than importing the money, it would be imported.
Instead, we just get this public posturing (with, I presume, a shakedown behind the scenes of some politicians trying to "educate" Apple on how things shall work).
Last edited by HobeSoundDarryl; May 21, 2013 at 10:09 AM.
|May 21, 2013, 10:03 AM||#18|
|May 21, 2013, 10:04 AM||#19|
We are healthy only to the extent that our ideas are humane. ― Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast of Champions
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|May 21, 2013, 10:05 AM||#22|
|May 21, 2013, 10:05 AM||#23|
Ugh. So glad THIS is what is setting the stage
"Levin says domestic companies that are not in a position to offshore their tax burden are at a competitive disadvantage. He accuses Apple of being partially responsible for the sequester and other budget cuts because of its tax avoidance strategies."
HOW? Apple, as far as I know, DID NOT submit the idea to the POTUS, who then SIGNED IT INTO LAW!!!
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|May 21, 2013, 10:06 AM||#24|
But nice job running into an article, shouting whatever political ideology you probably developed in fourth grade, and running out.
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|May 21, 2013, 10:06 AM||#25|
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