U.S. Senate investigation found no evidence that Apple did anything illegal in avoiding taxes

“Apple Inc. paid little to no corporate income tax to any national government on tens of billions of dollars in overseas income over the past four years, Senate investigators found, a revelation that fuels the debate over whether the U.S. tax code needs an overhaul,” Danny Yadron, Kate Linebaugh and Jessica E. Lessin report for The Wall Street Journal.

“The disclosure follows a lengthy examination of the technology giant’s tax practices by the U.S. Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, which is expected to air its findings at a hearing on Tuesday,” Yadron, Linebaugh and Lessin report. “Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook is preparing to testify at the hearing, and is expected to propose changes to a tax code that provides American companies strong incentives to keep overseas earnings bottled up at foreign subsidiaries.”

Yadron, Linebaugh and Lessin report, “Apple used technicalities in Irish and American tax law to pay little or no corporate taxes on at least $74 billion over the past four years, according to the Senate panel’s findings. The investigation found no evidence that Apple did anything illegal.”

MacDailyNews Take: “The investigation found no evidence that Apple did anything illegal.”

Yadron, Linebaugh and Lessin report, “Aides to the subcommittee said they have never seen a company use a subsidiary that didn’t owe corporate income taxes to any country.”

MacDailyNews Take: Innovation is an Apple hallmark. “The investigation found no evidence that Apple did anything illegal.”

Yadron, Linebaugh and Lessin report, “Apple didn’t dispute that entities it set up didn’t pay corporate taxes but denied they were designed to avoid taxes. The company said it pays local taxes on overseas earnings and U.S. taxes on investment income generated at its Irish subsidiaries. The company pointed to the ‘extraordinary’ amount of corporate income taxes it pays — $6 billion in 2012 — and said its U.S. effective federal cash tax rate was 30.5% last year, not much below the 35% statutory rate. ‘What they often leave out is the second part of the story, that Apple is one of the largest tax avoiders,’ said Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.), who described Apple as the ‘most egregious offender’ among U.S. corporations trying to avoid tax bills. Mr. McCain is the ranking Republican on the subcommittee headed by Michigan Democrat Carl Levin.”

MacDailyNews Take: If you don’t like it, change the stupid laws, numbnuts. Excuse us, Senator Numbnuts.

Yadron, Linebaugh and Lessin report, “General Electric Co., by comparison, had a 14.4% consolidated effective income-tax rate and paid $3.2 billion in cash income taxes globally last year. The company said its consolidated rate reflected lower tax rates on foreign earnings and tax credits for investments that created jobs.”

MacDailyNews Take: Uh, wait a ‘sec. Didn’t Senator Alzheimer just say that Apple was the “most egregious offender” in U.S. tax avoidance for paying a “U.S. effective federal cash tax rate” of 30.5%, but General Electric paid just a 14.4% “consolidated effective income-tax rate?” And, what is the difference between a “U.S. effective federal cash tax rate” and a “consolidated effective income-tax rate,” WSJ? Seems like an apples to oranges comparison or you would have used the same language for both, right? So, while Apple was paying a “U.S. effective federal cash tax rate” of 30.5%, what “U.S. effective federal cash tax rate” did GE pay, exactly? Here’s the answer: Nobody outside of GE and the IRS seems to know.

Yadron, Linebaugh and Lessin report, “Mr. Cook will urge Congress on Tuesday to modify the current tax system, which Apple said penalizes companies for bringing foreign earnings back to the U.S. ‘Apple welcomes an objective examination of the U.S. corporate tax system, which has not kept pace with the advent of the digital age and the rapidly changing global economy,’ the company said in testimony released Monday.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Read the full article and one fact becomes eminently clear: Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer is a genius who’s worth every penny he’s paid and then some.

While we kid Senator McCain above, he is a U.S. hero. We hope he acts like one and leads a way to fix a broken system that’s guarded zealously by special interests, instead of grandstanding by attempting to trample on a company that is operating lawfully and represents the absolute peak of American ingenuity.

While you’re at it, Senator, how about fixing the U.S. personal income tax system, too?

In closing: “The investigation found no evidence that Apple did anything illegal.”

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Hagens Berman investigating Apple Inc., others regarding tax-avoidance schemes; seeks whistleblower information – May 20, 2013
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Apple publishes full testimony to be given before the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee – May 20, 2013
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Apple’s showdown with the U.S. government over taxes on offshore cash – July 13, 2012
Apple‘s $74 billion tops list of U.S. tech companies’ overseas cash – July 9, 2012
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Apple, Oracle, Duke Energy, others organize lobbying blitz for tax holiday – February 17, 2011

89 Comments

      1. It has never been clear how Senator McCain is a hero. He seems to hate immigrants who don’t match his criteria and yet the US was built by immigrants and still to this day is fed and clothed and cleaned and gardened by the labour of these ‘hated’ immigrants. These action as so anti-American that he should be run out of the country.

          1. Canada’s awesome. I spent 7 years there and was blown away by how friendly they were up there. While I was there I had hernia surgery… for free.

            That said the winter’s are… colddd… but at the same time the summers were hot as hell.

            1. Nothing is for free. It must be paid for by some method. Much as an invited guest to someone house receives a free meal. But the family providing the free meal to the guest has paid for it by some action that resulted in payment.

              Never assume anything is free. Some where some one must pay.

        1. He’s actually been one of the few Republicans consistently urging immigration reform, so you obviously don’t know what you’re talking about. And given how he was tortured as a POW in North Vietnam to the point that he can’t raise his arms, yet declined release from captivity when offered special treatment as an admiral’s son, I’d say he’s a hero.

          1. Ah yes. America, the land of the freedom — unless you say something we don’t like and then we’ll personally insult with with degrading racist comments, and name-calling.

            The whole anti-immigrant and racist areas are such a pathetic sick joke actually. Unless your name is something like “Dances with Wolves” or “Crazy Buffalo”, your family are recent immigrants.

            1. He’s the one that said his relatives are in India. Not sure what your anti-immigrant comments are about? Or racist comments? But I do understand his anti-American comments. That’s why he’s a prick. But it’s nice that you care so much.

        2. Er, ‘hated’ immigrants?! Get with the program, the Obama Admin talking points is to call them “Customers”! Which I guess instead of ‘hated customers’, you will have to infer that McCain wants poor customer service!

          Much like the poor customer service the IRS gave to legal, oops there is that so oft omitted word again, Americans forming tax exempt TEA Parties! (Oops there is THAT word again also… will be interesting to see the hate for them and the love for immigrants er customers, who come here via not playing by the laws, rules, regulations set forth by those in Washington who some turn a blind eye to that fact.)

          We now return you to the current debate of what defines a hero?…

          Is it McCain for going to war? Or being imprisoned for 6 years?

          Is it JFK for being a 1%er’s son? Or crashing a PT boat?

          Is it FDR for creating BIG government that did nothing to get us out of the Depression? Or is it the surprise attack by the Pearl Harbor Bombers?

          Is it Barack Obama for being first black president? Or… just being black?

          What makes a hero???…

          To be honest, none of them are heroes! You can tell. They never wore spandex with a large superhero logo emblazoned on the chest and they don’t have capes!

          1. A hero is someone who stands up against illegal wars and stands up for invaded countries and stands up for universal education for the people of the world. A hero stands up for what is right and just.

      2. I respect McCain very much for his military career. It is impossible to lot respect or honor his sacrifices.

        However, he became a caricaturish partisan hack about 12 year ago. Sadly, his thanks for that was being trotted out by the GOP in 2008 to essentially get him out if the queue.

      3. @First2014 – denigrate an “American Hero wholesale”? He did that himself in the Keating Five scandal and his long slow sink into irrelevancy. War heroes do not necessarily make good politicians.

      4. Fwhatever, you appear to be getting soft on politicians. Could it be because McCain is a republican? You have never shown that type of restraint in denigrating democrats. I find your sudden restraint and appeal to reason uncharacteristic of your MDN persona. In truth, it is probably hypocritical, as well.

        You and your ilk have no credibility.

      5. McCain stopped being a hero when he sold his soul to the corrupt RNC. He should have wiped the floor with the dubmass shrub back when he had the mental and physical ability to do so.

        Term limits and dissolution of the 2-party lock on electoral procedures are long overdue. IRV works far better and more efficiently.

  1. Tell me one person or company that ISN’T a tax avoider. NOBODY wants to pay more than they have to and if the U.S. has laws to make it easy to minimize tax liabilities who would not utilize them? People use all kinds of chicanery, mostly legal to AVOID paying taxes, The U.S. then in fact is the guilty incompetent party allowing such loopholes and have no one to blame but themselves. I love too the disingenuous use of the word “avoiders” as if to suggest it’s a criminal or immoral act when it’s totally legal.

  2. The Senate summons Tim Cook to a highly publicized event about corporate taxation only to state that everything is fine, nothing is wrong, we’re all good friends here. Bullshit. Cook probably threatened to leave the US and take Apple with him. There are far more friendly nations to business than US.

  3. MDN, how can you say Apple did nothing wrong? Apple’s sin is that it didn’t grease the palms of our fine legislators in DC. Apple thinks that spending all its efforts on building products people want to buy is what a successful US company is suppose to do. How naive!

    Corporations are suppose to aim their best efforts at lobbying and donating to legislators. This concept that you are suppose to make quality products is so 20th century.

    Time for Tim Cook to pull a John Galt.

  4. Hey Congress. You guys should really consider overhauling the tax system. In my humble opinion you have selected the playing field way to steeply towards those at the top be they individuals or corporations. Our current economic and political polarization is the result

  5. MDN always misses the point with apple’s tax issue. No one is suggesting apple is doing anything illegal. But, at the same time, apple also isn’t interested at all in following the law.

    Apple is able to pay no tax or virtually no tax to foreign governments by being a United States company that would have to pay US corporate taxes on profits shipped back to the US. That’s the fail safe—that a company can shuffle around all the cash it wants abroad, but is going to pay tax at home.

    Apple, instead, leaves the money floating around and never coming back to a home, kind of like a multi billion dollar version of the garbage barge from years ago.

    It avoided foreign tax under systems which assume that apple will pay tax at home and then refuse to follow through and do so unless the US changes its tax laws to suit apple.

    It is quite literally like saying “don’t tax the money in my left hand because I’ll pay the tax when I put it in my right hand,” and then leaving the money floating in the air until the right hand offers a better deal.

    This is something economists warned about when the last repatriation holiday was passed by Congress in 2004–that the long term effect would be that companies would in future years hold cash abroad as a bargaining tool to get another holiday.

    What’s positive with apple now is that since it has been made clear that apple isn’t going to get another holiday (having not had enough foreign profits to be one of the big winners in ’04), apple is doing something it hadn’t done before, which is ask for a permanent reworked tax rate instead of a holiday.

    Companies have been lobbying for a holiday instead of a permanent change because the holiday last time was at a fire sale 5.25% rate and any permanent rate would be much higher than that, even if much lower than 35%.

    Large corporations would rather hold money abroad for years and then pay a 5% rate than repatriate it every year at a 15 or 20% rate.

    Apple would have stuck to the long game of lobbying for a holiday if its stock was still at $700. Now it has need for the cash and will eat a higher rate.

    1. “MDN always misses the point with apple’s tax issue. No one is suggesting apple is doing anything illegal. But, at the same time, apple also isn’t interested at all in following the law.”
      huh???

      1. Yeah, while you raise some interesting points, your introduction ruins it by suggesting that you can both be acting legally (i.e. acting within the law) while acting outside of the law. I mean, I understand what you’re saying–Apple is exploiting the laws as they exist right now for its own benefit–but if it’s not illegal, why should Apple be held to task for it?

        1. We’re not talking here about one law. There are multiple laws. Apple is complying with the laws it likes, and is leaving its cash parked in holding pattern until the US government changes the laws it doesn’t like.

          Again, there’s nothing illegal about that. There’s nothing illegal about a teenager asking for the keys to dad’s sports car, either. Apple’s been begging for the sports car for years, and dad’s not handing over the keys.

          All that’s happening now is that Apple’s stock has slid, Apple’s giving up on the sports car, and now is begging to borrow mom’s station wagon.

          1. Nope.
            Apple is complying FULLY with all the laws in all the countries within which it operates. The committee was hoping that a public show of their astonishingly weak hand would somehow shame Apple into paying more tax than the are LEGALLY required to.

          2. The problem with your grossly incorrect analogy is that Apple is well above the minimum driving age, has a valid license and has taken as many expert driving courses as possible — and excelled at each and every one of them. Dad is giving Apple the keys AND defining what roads to drive on (which Apple follows) and defining the speed limits (which Apple obeys) and defining how much gas Apple has to put into the car (which Apple does), etc., etc.

            Apple is not a teenager asking for the keys to the sports car without having a valid license, without fueling the car, or crossing international boarders without permission.

    2. “No one is suggesting apple is doing anything illegal. But, at the same time, apple also isn’t interested at all in following the law.”

      Yeah, that actually makes no sense at all, but thanks for playing. They’re not doing anything illegal, so they are, in fact, following the law. Hope that helps.

      Oh, and you should actually try reading Apple’s tax reform proposals which could actually lead to it paying MORE tax overall. The company states that this is okay as long as other corporations are paying on a level field, as it were.

      http://www.apple.com/pr/pdf/Apple_Testimony_to_PSI.pdf

    3. ” It avoided foreign tax under systems which assume that apple will pay tax at home…”

      That’s total and complete BS. You think Italy would not tax Apple for sales in Italy because they assume Apple will pay the IRS? You must have some really strange neurons up there bud.

      1. @Wingsy

        Why post like that? Let’s look at your brief post…

        “That’s total and complete BS”.
        That could be left off complete.

        “You think Italy……the IRS”.
        There’s your actual point. Great.

        “You must have some really strange neurons up there bud.”
        Pointless personal insult. Contributes nothing to making your point.

        This construction is very common; open with some vitriol, make a point, close with an insult. Why can’t you (and you others) just stop doing that? Make your point. If that is not enough, you’re not going to add any force to your point by insulting and/or name-calling and/or swearing.

        Obviously, these behaviors are ways of attempting to inflict emotional pain. They have no other purpose So you are either a bully or very foolish and ignorant about how to talk to effectively other people. Either way, you should stop.

  6. Whaaaaaaat?! They didn’t do anything wrong?! You’re kidding?! They have such a long history of lying cheating and stealing, oh yeah, and illegal tax evasion… year after year after year! I just don’t know why we put up with them!

    Oh wait, I thought you said Samsung.

    Never mind.

    (Apologies for all of the childish rants lately, but it in retrospect they seem significantly more grown up than the incessant and mostly mindless persecution of Apple by the U.S. Government, Samsung and WS. Maybe it’s just the price of genuine success.)

  7. Wow. I can’t believe it. It looks like Apple was under investigation for tax issues. Yet the media doesn’t really report this. It’s been the distraction of Tim Cook visiting Congress.

    The bottom line you fanboy fucktards:

    “Apple used technicalities in Irish and American tax law to pay little or no corporate taxes on at least $74 billion over the past four years, according to the Senate panel’s findings. The investigation found no evidence that Apple did anything illegal.”

    I have zero problem with Apple doing this. What I do have a problem with is if any of you idiots chastise any other company for taking advantage of overseas tax shelters and holes in tax laws. If you do, your mouths should be shut up for the rest of your lives.

    And just earlier today Tim Cook said they don’t use any tax gimmicks. What a fucking lying piece of shit. They use what looks to be the biggest gimmicks of anyone. There’s verified 5 shell holding companies of Apple, at least 1 in the Virgin Islands. Bullshit Cook.

    Yes, you may be operating within the law but you and countless other countries are using tax gimmicks. That’s what this is.

    1. True, but that is the least of Gaohogles problems. Screwed-Ghoul likes to steal your info, and give it to shady third parties. So what if Apple stores their money overseas? It’s not hurting anybody. Giggle has a lot- and I mean A LOT of problems right now. It looks like that their Ogle Glasses have been banned in some public places. Apple will NEVER do such things. Apple doing this is beans compared to what Gaggle has been doing. “Do no evil” What a bunch of

      1. Here goes the delusional fanboy crap again. Look at how much you defend Apple. If Google got out of paying tax on $74 billion what would you be saying?

        Look at Apple. Forget everyone else right now. It’s stupid and immature. “Well, mommie, I stole x but Tommy stole y!” Who gives a shit about anyone right now but Apple. And if you want to talk about taking people’s user data, Apple got caught doing that with its map data a year ago and faced potential lawsuits and sanctions over it. Please, save me your bullshit excuses. They should not have collected that information without your consent.

        Anyway, are you ok with Apple getting out of paying taxes on all that money? Personally, I don’t give a shit. But don’t let me catch you saying other companies are evil for not paying taxes because ALL companies are exactly the same in that they seek one thing and one thing only: profit.

        1. What really makes me laugh about your foaming-at-the-mouth rants is that no one here has mentioned Google’s tax avoidance schemes, apart from you. Which makes your ranting little more than attention-seeking.

        2. “And if you want to talk about taking people’s user data, Apple got caught doing that with its map data a year ago…”

          Except it didn’t sell that info or use that info for monetary gain. It used it to help create a better product, i.e., provide you with faster location services. But you can spin it to your liking if that’s your preference.

      2. John,

        Please don’t try to talk to sfgh. He has NO interest in any kind of discourse — in listening to anything that anyone has to say.
        He’s just some kind of frothing, hate-filled psych case who comes here to vomit negativity, swear and call people names.

        1. I hate delusional people because I have to live with them everyday. I want you people to stop being delusional and stop worshipping Apple. It’s more destructive to your life and everyone else’s. Be productive and help people. Stop thinking so negatively about other companies and that one company is the greatest. You’re victims of being brainwashed into a brand.

          Apple doesn’t give a shit about any of us. When your Dad’s dead on a table. When you’re stuck. When nobody can help you, there’re not there. It’s all about money. They just want profit. And that’s fine. But you people think Apple is this perfect thing and that they’re different.

          They just have good marketing.

          Here’s a article from yesterday on MDN that illustrates a similar tax scheme associated with Google, but less complex and much less in dollar amounts (hundreds of millions vs. many billions for Apple).

          Google whistleblower reveals massive tax avoidance scheme; ready to hand over 100,000 emails to UK authorities

          You fucktard fanboys, zillions of you, spouting in the comments “Do no evil. Ya right Google!”. “Busted!”.

          It then now gets revealed here on MDN Apple’s massive tax avoidance scheme spanning different parts of the world all the way to the Virgin Islands and involving $74 billion (which is probably a world record) and you defend them. Although the NYT blew the lid of Apple’s tax avoidance well over a year ago.

          Chastise anyone or anything that isn’t Apple. Be delusional.

          Wake the fuck up.

          1. So you reccomend that we try a Windoze computer then? Or maybe Linux, that’s not made by a corporation, that’s made by nerds who live in their parents basement. If you don’t like Apple, fine, but there are other websites that cater to Windoze sufferers, and Phandroids.

            1. I like Apple’s products. But I don’t give a fuck about Apple because Apple doesn’t give a shit about me. Fanboys are delusional and exhibit the same behaviour people exhibit in a cult.

              Here’s what might as well be an Apple Keynote… like these idiot followers of Jim Jones, fanboys will suck up anything Apple says.

            2. And Apple should give a shit about you because…?

              I’d actually be uncomfortable with them worrying about me. That’s not their job nor their expertise. Their job is to make a great product, and continue to innovate.

              And this apple cult meme is so tiresome. I’ve heard it millions of times, and yet never once met someone who used apple products and was in any way like someone in a cult (and I HAVE met people in cults, so I know the difference).

              And, while a lot of us are willing to give Apple the benefit of the doubt, they’ve actually EARNED that by working so hard to do well with all the things they do. They also have truly excellent customer service which I have experienced the few times I’ve needed any support.

              The Jonestown thing is not comparable, they were led by someone who LIED to them, promised something he couldn’t deliver, and worse.

              There are probably legitimate criticisms of Apple or any other entity, but you haven’t made one (any legitimate one) yet.

              I’m happily an Apple fan because I cheer for companies and people that do a good job. I’m also a liberal, which has no more to do with this subject than your use of Jim Jones.

            3. They shouldn’t give a shit about me. But you people act like they actually care about you because you defend them at every turn and keep saying how different they are. Yes, they make great products, but they lie, cheat, and break the law like every other business. Perhaps even more.

              -For instance, when Steve Jobs got back to Apple, one thing he cut was a special lifetime warranty customers had paid upfront for. When he was challenged on doing this from another executive, Steve yelled quickly, “Fuck em”. This is an illegal business practice and shows complete indifference for Apple customers.

              -Apple regularly spreads disinformation through the media to confuse its competitors and manipulate consumers. Former Apple marketing execs have come forward and discussed how Apple does this with well timed leaks through various media outlets. For example, they’ll make competitors think they’re working on a product category when they’re not just to waste their time. Or a high projected price will be released for a rumored product just before a Keynote but the actual price will be lower… this helps Apple soften the blow of its higher prices on consumers.

              -Apple faces lawsuits and sanctions all the time. For instance, they did not abide by the law in the EU because of suspect marketing practices:

              “In 2011, Apple was fined €900,000 ($1.2m) by Italian authorities for misleading advertising relating to its AppleCare Protection service. In short, EU consumer law dictates that consumers are entitled to two years of warranty. Apple, however, only provided one, with an additional premium warranty ‘bolt-on’ for an additional year.”

              -There was a massive stock backdating scandal and Apple was caught. In Steve Jobs’ own words at a government hearing, “We found some things we wish we didn’t”.

              I could go on and on. The only reason you idiots defend Apple is because you’re delusional and because of this, you exhibit the same sorts of behaviours people in a cult exhibit. You will refuse to believe anything that is negative about X. You let X manipulate you without question. You listen to what they say and you believe everything they say. You are manipulated sheep.

              You believe Tim when he says they don’t use tax gimmicks when in fact they use tax gimmicks on a scale I don’t think anyone has ever seen before. You all thought Tim was going before the government to “help” them determine some decent tax reform, when in fact Apple is being investigated for a massive tax avoidance scheme.

              Having said all of this, I love Apple products because I think they’re the best computer products on the planet. But do I think Apple as a company is better than the rest aside from these products? No way. They’re as greasy and underhanded as the worst of them.

          2. @sfgh

            So there we have your context and your goal…
            “I hate delusional people because I have to live with them everyday. I want you people to stop being delusional and stop worshipping Apple. It’s more destructive to your life and everyone else’s.”

            * It should be very, very plain to you that you are not succeeding — and that you never will. *

            NO-ONE is going to persuaded with an argument that is essentially, “Here’s a more positive and constructive thought, you stupid, pathetic, ignorant little fuck”, whether it’s about Apple, how to run a country, how to live a good life. Nothing. You are destined for complete and utter failure in every area of your life, if that’s how you are going to relate to others about every topic of importance.

            Imagine talking to a boss like that about some brilliant idea you have for improving the company. Your boss won’t hear anything. It’s just be, “blah, blah, blah, you ignorant fuck.” To which the response will, of course, be, “You fired.”

            Or imagine talking to some 300lb biker like that. You’re going to get your teeth caved in – or worse. I’m tending to think you don’t actually talk to people like that face to face… because the consequences would be too emotionally, financially and physically dangerous.

            Any goal is best achieved by planning and executing a series of integrated, strategic actions. Believe me, calling people fucktards and so on pretty much every time you post is not going to get you one inch closer to your goal — EVER.

            I personally think you are so twisted with hatred and poison that nothing you say is valid. I dismiss it all automatically. That is the effect of your manner of writing. I’m sure many others think the same. If you want to EVER move even a tiny distance closer to your goal, prove us wrong by simply making your points with zero name-calling, swearing or insults.

            (Same for the rest of you who write in similar ways to sfgh.)

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