Apple CEO Cook accused of ‘disrespecting’ Ireland

“Tim Cook, Apple chief executive, has been accused of being ‘disrespectful’ to Ireland after he turned down an invitation to talk to a committee of MPs investigating the US technology giant’s Irish tax arrangements,” Vincent Boland reports for The Financial Times.

“In a letter to the committee made public on Thursday, Claire Thwaites, a senior director for government affairs at Apple, said the affair was ‘a complex and challenging issue’ on which it was engaging with the Irish finance ministry and tax authorities as well as the commission. ‘Given the sensitive nature of the investigation and the timing, we have been advised not to undertake any other direct activities, which could potentially prejudice future outcomes. It is on this basis that we are unable to appear before the committee on this occasion,’ Ms Thwaites wrote in the letter, which was dated December 20,” Boland reports. “The letter sparked criticism from Irish politicians. Pearse Doherty, a member of the finance committee, said he was ‘angry and disappointed’ at Apple’s refusal to meet the MPs and contrasted it with Mr Cook’s willingness to appear before the US Senate. ‘For him to refuse to attend the committee now is disrespectful to the Irish people,’ said Mr Doherty, a Sinn Féin MP.”

“However, Mr Cook’s stance could signal Apple wants to distance itself from the furore over the commission ruling, which came as a shock to the Irish government and led to a furious dispute between Dublin and Brussels,” Boland reports. “Apple and the Irish government have lodged separate appeals against the ruling and Mr Cook has defended his company’s tax arrangements in Ireland, where it employs 6,000 people in the southern city of Cork.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Some Irish politicians are playing politics. Shocker.

They don’t need Apple’s CEO for anything of substance. They just want to put on a dog and pony show.

SEE ALSO:
Apple CEO Cook declines invitation to discuss EU tax ruling with Irish parliament – January 5, 2017
Ireland accuses EU of exceeding power in Apple tax grab – December 19, 2016
Apple formally appeals EU tax grab this week, says company was a ‘convenient target’ – December 19, 2016
The ‘Brexit-Apple’ connection: What in the world was Margrethe Vestager thinking? – September 12, 2016
EU ministers line up to take tax bites out of Apple – September 12, 2016
Former EU competition commissioner: Vestager claim that Apple owes back taxes an incorrect use of EU law – September 2, 2016
Irish government to fight EU on Apple tax – September 2, 2016
Treasury accuses EU of trying to steal U.S. tax revenues with Apple decision – September 1, 2016
Irish residents opposed to EU’s tax demand of Apple – September 1, 2016
Apple Inc. pushes back against EU tax grab – September 1, 2016
Apple may repatriate billions of dollars next year after new U.S. President takes office – September 1, 2016
U.S. tax code allows for dramatic retaliation against EU overreach in Apple case – September 1, 2016
Apple CEO Tim Cook on EU tax demand: ‘No one did anything wrong here and Ireland is being picked on… It is total political crap’ – September 1, 2016
U.S. Treasury: The European Commission’s retroactive tax demands on Apple are unfair – August 30, 2016
EU demands Apple pay massive $14.5 billion in taxes plus interest – August 30, 2016
U.S. government warns EU: Do not hit Apple with a massive back tax bill – or else – August 25, 2016

40 Comments

    1. What’s unclear? Irish government invited Cook, Cook declined.

      There is no question that the scoundrels in prior Irish governments who traded a 1.5% tax in exchange for 2000 jobs got a bad deal for the Irish people overall.

      The real question is how long the Irish government can continue swindling their people.

      If you think tax breaks are the way to prosperity, then go ahead and look at the amazing employment and infrastructure improvements that these tax havens have to offer. The answer is pitiful — a few government officials and their crony friends get rich, their citizens get nothing. No different than a Nigerian warlord selling Exxon cheap oil and pocketing the profits while the native populace nearly starves.

      1. thanks so much for the impotent verbosity, however, my question was is the source of the “disrespecting Ireland” from the EU or the Irish government referred to in the headline.

        PS: “If you think tax breaks are the way to prosperity…”
        In the future, please refrain from telling me “what I think.” One might conclude you have lost your “objectivity.”

        1. further…
          “…a few government officials and their crony friends get rich, their citizens get nothing.”

          I would suggest that the 6,000 Apple employees in Cork and the government that collects their income, property, excise and sales taxes might disagree with your “objective” analysis.

          You’re a punk.

          1. Calling him a punk serves what purpose besides inflating your shallow sense of self esteem? You were actually making some sense, but then you just couldn’t help yourself. It’s not easy being you Botty. Quite a burden to bear. The pressure to entertain your followers must weigh you down at times. I had high hopes for you, but once again, they have been dashed.

        2. So you didn’t read the article. Let me help you out:

          Chairman of the Oireachtas all-party Finance Committee, John McGuinness, invited Cook to answer questions.

          Finance Committee member Sinn Fein’s Pearse Doherty said he had been told the offer had been rejected. He called Cook’s rejection a snub to the Irish people and parliament.

          Another member of the Irish Finance Committee, Labor TD Seán Sherlock, stated that it was “a missed opportunity by Cook to speak directly to his employees in Ireland through the committee.”

          Does that clear things up for you?

          As for your lack of reading comprehension, I did not tell you what to think. I wrote IF you think Policy A, then you need to look at the Outcome of that policy. Since it doesn’t compare with the ideal you seem to want for where you live, maybe it’s time to apply some circumspection instead of badmouthing the EU and its efforts to provide a level playing field for entrepreneurs and companies of all sizes. Isn’t that what we all want?

      2. Though not ‘exactly’ telling someone what they think, starting a sentence with ‘If you think…’ is pretty much the same thing. Argue semantics as you will.

  1. Talk about respect…?

    About Time that Apple gets some in mass quantities from all the people it feeds and keeps in business word wode and here at home, not to mention our economy.

    Apple pays more taxes in this country alone than any other company.

    Apple is the oracle of tech and a model corporate citizen and if rodney were here he’d tell it too.

    1. breeze, I agree. Too many people here blather on about how bad Apple is cause it does not pay more money than it owes.

      How many here pay MORE taxes than they owe, just because its a nice thing to do?????

      Apple is REQUIRED to maximize profit/wealth for its shareholders. That is the rule as its a public company. Now that does not mean screwing customers to make a quick buck but rather Apple looks at creating a great company and great products so that it grows, long term. By doing what is right. Not what makes politicians votes just cause!.

      If you disagree, look at the bull sh*t that Apple got from judge cote and the DOJ trial. Apple DID NOT act illegally. The other companies agreed on that fact. Did justice prevail? NOPE. Power politics, sadly, still wins.

  2. The Irish tax haven has existed for decades. Everyone knew about it — it was no secret. Brussels can go screw themselves. IF Apple has to pay, then every company that took advantage if Ireland’s favorable tax policies over the past decades should also pay-up what they owe. Big pharmaceutical companies, Hollywood, other tech companies — every one of them. It’ll be a blood bath…

    1. Yes! Either they all pay or none of them pay.

      What are APPLE’s other choices in that part of the world? I’d love to see them say, “sorry people,” and walk away. It would cost APPLE a ton of money but sometimes if you can’t deal with people you have to be ready to walk. The low tax rates in Ireland were well known and from the very beginning, as you say. I remember reading an article about an interview with Jobs where he was explaining why he was opening up a plant in Ireland and he was very open about it having a great tax rate. There was no secret whatsoever.

  3. Tim almost never shows up for an event which puts him on the defensive.

    He did appear before Congress a couple of times, and heard a senator say how much he loved the iPhone.

    I would not appear for the hearing, either, but I would love to visit Ireland someday. Beautiful country.

  4. A VERY nice letter from Apple. No appearance of collusion between Ireland and Apple, etc.

    So ‘SHUT UP PLEASE!‘ to those few ignorant Irish MPs who are determined to create a problem, not solve one. (Hello, Pearse Doherty). Please get back to attending to Irish law. That’s your job. Thank you.

    1. Not quite. Apple willfully engaged in a special deal that enabled them to pay the equivalent of a 0.005% tax rate in 2014 rather than the published 12.5% tax rate that Ireland offers other firms.

      It is unfortunate that MDN hasn’t spent more time getting all the facts on this, because international tax law precedents are being set here. Finally.

      More on the situation:
      http://www.irishtimes.com/business/economy/q-a-what-exactly-is-at-stake-in-the-apple-tax-issue-1.2771902

      The special tax arrangement Apple enjoys was negotiated with a minority government because that government thought Apple would increase employment there. Fact is, the tax that Apple has avoided paying is enough to cover the combined property taxes of all Irishmen for the next 26 years. Think about that. That is a massive concentration of wealth that undermines all the bullshit feelgood rhetoric Cook offers to defend such greed.

      Apple uses Apple Sales International and Apple Operations Europe to launder the profits from the sales of Apple products in the entire EU, Middle East, Aftrica, and India through Ireland. Those offices perform essentially no function whatsoever except to hide profits that were earned elsewhere, even outside the EU. Yes, this is bigger than just Ireland or the EU, Apple is also stiffing non-EU countries.

      The other game being played here is valuation of internal goods transfer. All multinational corporations play this game. That is part of the reason that small entrepreneurs are placed at such a huge disadvantage to large corporations. The games played in internal licensing, product costs, and so forth enable massive transfer of wealth from one nation to another in a manner that no small business could accomplish. So the nimble efficient startups are hammered with full tax burden, whereas the slowest and most bureaucratic companies, which now includes Apple, are rewarded for their legal prowess even as their product offerings becomes stale and less innovative with every passing year. Obviously, if Cook’s only goal is to build a bigger pile of cash, then he’s going to spend most of his time on tax games and outsourcing of cheap labor rather than what Apple used to do: develop great products.

      Obviously it is easy to whine about taxation, but taxation is merely paying for the infrastructure and services we all use. Ideally this affair should prompt nations around the world to harmonize and simplify their tax codes so that all companies, small and large, shoulder the tax burden WHERE THEY DO BUSINESS. The trend of corporate coffers overflowing while practically every nation under the planet runs a huge budget deficit in order to care for their citizens shows how broken the system has become.

      1. Hi Mike!

        Not quite. Apple willfully engaged in a special deal that enabled them to pay the equivalent of a 0.005% tax rate in 2014 rather than the published 12.5% tax rate that Ireland offers other firms.

        That’s the first time I’ve heard of anything different in 2014 OR that this was any special deal different from every other company basing themselves in Ireland within Europe. So, I have nothing to do but attempt to verify your statement. Thankfully, exceptionally, you’ve provided a URL link reference. I’ll go read it.

        Without verifying it all, I like what you pointed out in your post. It does all fit my understanding of the contemporary ways of business, or ‘biznizz’ as a sarcastically call it when the customer, and in this case the home countries of corporations, get royally abused and screwed. Your last point stabs right at the heart of a core problem of the US government, strings being pulled by bizTards who’d happily see the US government fall into ruins, which it is.

        I will point out that when Cook started off as the CEO of Apple, he was clearly NOT stockholder savvy. Slowly, with time, he kowtowed to the likes of stock activist, narcissist Carl Icahn. (Hi Carl! You dick!) The more Cook responded to the stock activism, the more corrupt became Apple’s former devotion to their customers. Clearly, that devotion decay has reached the point of being BLATANTLY noticeable, as we’ve been chatting about here at MDN over the past year.

        So what’s the balance here? It’s going to be interesting to watch.

      2. … Having read the article you linked, some of what you stated was not verified. Example:


        The EC issued a ruling on August 30th in relation to the tax arrangements of Apple in Ireland, where it has its European HQ. The EC said Apple had been granted selective treatment by Ireland through two tax rulings in 1991 and 2007.

        This is more in line with what I’d read previously. I’d still like to dig deeper into the details.

        Also, the article was written before the Irish government ALSO voted to appeal the ruling. Considering that vote, this bickering rubbish coming out of certain Irish MPs becomes all the more irrelevant and wrong. Let the process voted upon by the government (and Apple) proceed and stop adding peripheral noise contrary to the appeals. At least, that’s what makes clear sense to me.

        1. Thanks Derek. There’s much to read, so this forum is inadequate to cover it all. I am glad to hear that you are willing to seek the whole truth rather than first take sides and then listen only to that which supports it.

          There are many good articles on the Irish Times website. Here are a couple more:

          http://www.irishtimes.com/business/financial-services/the-definition-of-head-office-that-apple-tax-ruling-explained-1.2912111

          http://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/fintan-o-toole-we-will-hurt-only-ourselves-by-appealing-apple-ruling-1.2780302

          To make a long story short, the EU determined that Apple subsidiaries were granted improper tax breaks in 1991 and in 2007. The EU report showed evidence that the tax arrangements were made for Apple’s unique benefit, which violates EU rules. The USA, by the way, has also branded Ireland a “tax haven” that uses kleptocratic means — i.e., enrich the governing party while screwing the populace.

          I think it goes without saying that any company that requires three shell companies to achieve an effective <2% tax rate over the last decade is probably getting some favorable treatment.

          I know many here think I have something against Apple, but in reality I am just against Apple turning into the next Microsoft. In this affair, it seems as though Apple is hellbent on doing so. Economic justice doesn't mean I want taxes raised on Apple. I want every company in Ireland to pay the pubished rates with no special deals. To any company, 15% is more than reasonable. 2% is immoral and does disservice to all Irishmen.

      3. From what you are saying, Apple is clearly at fault for accepting a generous invitation to increase technology capacity of Ireland. Shame on Apple for not insisting on paying 2500 times what Ireland asked for. What was Apple thinking?

        1. What makes you think Ireland made the offer? Apple and other companies walk up to any government they want, claiming they will build great things and employ many people, but only if they receive special privileges. States compete to provide tax breaks to corporations, so do countries. Maybe Americans are accustomed to such soft corruption, but it’s different in Europe. Good for them for enforcing EU rules. The federal government in the USA should take similar measures. Well, that is if it wanted 50 vibrant states instead of what it is rapidly becoming: Wall St, the Rust Belt, Flyover Country, and California. Dozens of failing states that are being left behind because they can’t afford to be screwed over by a finicky corporation that has no loyalty to nation state or city.

          1. The alternative to my scenario seems to be that Apple just picked a country at random and forced them to let Apple take a bunch of their population and force them to work for almost no wages and not do a single thing for the country and there was nothing Ireland could do about it??? Ireland never even knew it was happening!

          2. http://blogs.wsj.com/briefly/2016/08/30/apples-irish-tax-bill-at-a-glance/

            How Did Apple Pay Such Light Tax in Ireland?
            “The commission said that two tax rulings issued by Ireland to Apple have “substantially and artificially lowered the tax paid by Apple in Ireland since 1991.”

            The rulings endorsed a way to establish how much tax two of Apple’s Irish incorporated companies–Apple Sales International and Apple Operations Europe– should pay.

            Almost all sales profits recorded by the two companies were internally attributed to a “head office,” which existed only on paper and could not have generated such profits, according to the commission.

            These profits weren’t subject to tax in any country, under specific provisions of the Irish tax law, which are no longer in force. As a result, Apple only paid an effective corporate tax rate that declined from 1% in 2003 to 0.005% in 2014 on the profits of Apple Sales International, the commission said.”

      1. The difference is that there are two appeals, Ireland’s and Apple’s, that are ongoing. Apple nicely summarized the situation and they are correct.

        You’re speaking intelligently today. Always appreciated.

  5. Well in the UK such committees can effectively subpoena individuals though it rarely comes to that as not to appear would do serious damage. Mind you do can appearing if you play it badly. However it doesn’t have the (effective) power to subpoena foreign citizens I believe though I note that the Murdochs though technically American citizens and not compelled to appear, felt obliged to do so because of the potential damage to their substantial interests here and reputation generally. I suspect the system is similar in Ireland but Cook’s situation is hardly as difficult as Murdochs as things stand and the pressure minimal by comparison as yet.

  6. This silly comment came from an Opposition Sinn Féin Member of the Dáil (Irish Parliament) who loves a Sound Bite.

    The Irish Government and Apple are totally at one and fully united in their response to the EU crazy ruling

    Everyone knew that Tim Cook would not appear before an Opposition Staged Floor Show

  7. If you were the president of Apple, being sued for billions of dollars, would you volunteer to answer a bunch of provocative questions on-the-record that lawyers can then twist and use against you in a trial? Tim Cook knows better than that. Duh!

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