“BusinessDay can reveal that the Australian Tax Office has hit Apple with a $28.5 million bill for back taxes, and in Europe global technology companies are under intense pressure to justify their complex ownership structures that rely heavily on tax havens,” Ben Butler and Georgia Wilkin report for The Brisbane Times.

“Paperwork filed with corporate regulators around the world reveals the Australian arms of Apple, Google and eBay form part of these structures, held at arm’s length from their US parents through intermediary companies located in tax havens,” Butler and Wilkin report. “Apple’s tax bill may be a sign that the ATO is joining the tax push led by European governments.
The French government this week demanded $US252 million ($A244 million) in back taxes from Amazon, adding to pressure on the online trader to justify its network of subsidiaries in Europe, which incorporates tax haven Luxembourg. In Britain, a public accounts committee this week grilled executives from Google UK, Amazon and Starbucks about strategies to minimise their tax in Europe.”

Butler and Wilkin report, “In Apple’s case, the Australian company is owned by Apple Operations International, a subsidiary in Cork, Ireland, which is in turned owned by Apple companies in Britain, the US and tax haven the British Virgin Islands. Google’s structure also uses Ireland, which enjoys a low corporate tax rate, in addition to tax haven Bermuda; while for eBay’s Australian-NZ company, ownership is split between companies in the Netherlands and Switzerland.

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