‘Paradise Papers’ leak reveals how the rich use tax havens, from Apple Inc. to Bono to Queen Elizabeth

“The ‘Paradise Papers’ leak has put a spotlight on how the rich use offshore tax havens, with the revelations touching U2 frontman Bono, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Queen Elizabeth II,” Victor Reklaitis reports for MarketWatch. “Apple Inc has drawn attention following the leak, too.”

“The iPhone maker in recent years has been relying on Jersey — an island in the English Channel that is an offshore financial hub — after Ireland began to change its rules, according to reporting on the ‘Paradise Papers’ from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists,” Reklaitis reports. “The ‘Paradise Papers’ come more than a year after the ‘Panama Papers,’ for which the ICIJ won a Pulitzer Prize for exposing offshore banking practices of the world’s elite.”

Read more in the full article here.

“The previously undisclosed story of Apple’s search for a new tax haven and its use of Jersey is among the findings emerging from a cache of secret corporate records from Appleby, a Bermuda-based law firm that caters to businesses and the wealthy elite,” Jesse Drucker and Simon Bowers report for The New York Times. “The records, shared by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists with The New York Times and other media partners, were obtained by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung.”

“The documents reveal how big law firms help clients weave their way through the gaps between different countries’ tax rules. Appleby clients have transferred trademarks, patent rights and other valuable assets into offshore shell companies, avoiding billions of dollars in taxes,” Drucker and Bowers report. “The rights to Nike’s Swoosh trademark, Uber’s taxi-hailing app, Allergan’s Botox patents and Facebook’s social media technology have all resided in shell companies that listed as their headquarters Appleby offices in Bermuda and Grand Cayman, the records show.”

Drucker and Bowers report, “Tax strategies like the ones used by Apple — as well as Amazon, Google, Starbucks and others — cost governments around the world as much as $240 billion a year in lost revenue, according to a 2015 estimate by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.”

MacDailyNews Take: $240 billion sounds like a lot. It’s almost as much as Apple has on-hand in cash and marketable securities. For some further perspective, the Obama administration’s budget for 2017 proposed spending $4.2 trillion. That’s 4,200 billion. So, all of the money not collected due to legal tax strategies worldwide ($240 billion) totals 5.71% of the U.S.’s current proposed budget.

We don’t have a trillion-dollar debt because we haven’t taxed enough; we have a trillion-dollar debt because we spend too much. — Ronald Reagan

“European regulators are trying to force countries including Ireland, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands to collect back taxes from big companies that relied on offshore arrangements,” Drucker and Bowers report. “Apple is being pursued for $14.5 billion in back taxes after European regulators ruled that its old tax structure amounted to illegal state aid from the Irish government.”

“Apple’s hunt for a tax haven is a familiar tale, said Reuven Avi-Yonah, director of the international tax program at the University of Michigan Law School, who also reviewed the Appleby documents,” Drucker and Bowers report. “‘This is how it usually works: You close one tax shelter, and something else opens up,’ he said. ‘It just goes on endlessly.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Apple has released the following statement, verbatim:

Apple believes every company has a responsibility to pay its taxes, and as the largest taxpayer in the world, Apple pays every dollar it owes in every country around the world. We’re proud of the economic contributions we make to the countries and communities where we do business.

We’re presenting the facts on this page in response to reporting by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. Among the inaccuracies in these reports:

• The changes Apple made to its corporate structure in 2015 were specially designed to preserve its tax payments to the United States, not to reduce its taxes anywhere else. No operations or investments were moved from Ireland.

• Far from being “untouched by the United States,” Apple pays billions of dollars in taxes to the US at the statutory 35 percent rate on investment income from its overseas cash.

• Apple’s effective tax rate on foreign earnings is 21 percent — a figure easily calculated from public filings. This rate has been consistent for many years.
Last month, in response to questions from the ICIJ, the New York Times and others, Apple provided the following statement:

The debate over Apple’s taxes is not about how much we owe but where we owe it. As the largest taxpayer in the world we’ve paid over $35 billion in corporate income taxes over the past three years, plus billions of dollars more in property tax, payroll tax, sales tax and VAT. We believe every company has a responsibility to pay the taxes they owe and we’re proud of the economic contributions we make to the countries and communities where we do business.

Under the current international tax system, profits are taxed based on where the value is created. The taxes Apple pays to countries around the world are based on that principle. The vast majority of the value in our products is indisputably created in the United States — where we do our design, development, engineering work and much more — so the majority of our taxes are owed to the US.

When Ireland changed its tax laws in 2015, we complied by changing the residency of our Irish subsidiaries and we informed Ireland, the European Commission and the United States. The changes we made did not reduce our tax payments in any country. In fact, our payments to Ireland increased significantly and over the last three years we’ve paid $1.5 billion in tax there — 7 percent of all corporate income taxes paid in that country. Our changes also ensured that our tax obligation to the United States was not reduced.

We understand that some would like to change the tax system so multinationals’ taxes are spread differently across the countries where they operate, and we know that reasonable people can have different views about how this should work in the future. At Apple we follow the laws, and if the system changes we will comply. We strongly support efforts from the global community toward comprehensive international tax reform and a far simpler system, and we will continue to advocate for that.”

More Information About Apple’s Tax Payments

Throughout its history, Apple has designed new products — and established entirely new industries — by focusing on innovation. That hard work and dedication has led to the creation of revolutionary products and services that have profoundly improved people’s lives and created millions of jobs around the world.

Taxes for multinational companies are complex, yet a fundamental principle is recognized around the world: A company’s profits are taxed based on where value is created. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Ireland, the United States and others all agree on this principle.

1. Apple is the largest taxpayer in the world, paying over $35 billion in corporate income taxes in the last three years. Apple pays taxes in every country where we sell our products.

When a customer buys an Apple product outside the United States, the profit is first taxed in the country where the sale takes place. Then Apple pays taxes to Ireland, where Apple sales and distribution activity is executed by some of the 6,000 employees working there. Additional tax is then also due in the US when the earnings are repatriated.
Apple’s worldwide effective tax rate is 24.6 percent, higher than average for US multinationals.

2. The vast majority of the value in Apple products is created in the United States, where design, development, engineering work and more are accomplished. So under the current international tax system, the majority of Apple taxes are owed to the US.

In a white paper last year, the US Treasury expressed concern over European regulators’ attempts to tax money that is owed to the US. “To the extent that such foreign taxes are imposed on income that should not have been attributable to the relevant Member State, that outcome is deeply troubling, as it would effectively constitute a transfer of revenue to the EU from the US government and its taxpayers.”

3. Apple has cash overseas because that’s where it sells the majority of its products. Under the current tax system, post-tax earnings from foreign sales are subject to US tax. Apple has earmarked more than $36 billion to cover US deferred taxes. This is in addition to the $35 billion the company paid in corporate income taxes over the past three years.

4. Apple has been operating in Ireland since 1980 when Steve Jobs looked for a base to expand outside the US. The facility in Cork, Ireland started with 60 employees and now has over 6,000. Apple’s innovation and investment supports a further 12,000 jobs across Ireland. And across Europe, Apple supports more than 1.5 million jobs.

When Ireland changed its tax laws in 2015, Apple made changes to its corporate structure to comply. Since then, all of Apple’s Irish operations have been conducted through Irish resident companies. Apple pays tax at Ireland’s statutory 12.5 percent.

As part of these changes, Apple’s subsidiary which holds overseas cash became resident in the UK Crown dependency of Jersey, specifically to ensure that tax obligations and payments to the US were not reduced. Since then Apple has paid billions of dollars in US tax on the investment income of this subsidiary. There was no tax benefit for Apple from this change and, importantly, this did not reduce Apple’s tax payments or tax liability in any country.

5. Apple believes comprehensive international tax reform is essential, and for many years has been advocating for simplification of the tax code. Reform that allows a free flow of capital will accelerate economic growth and support job creation. A coordinated legislative effort internationally will remove the current tug of war between countries over tax payments and ensure certainty of law for taxpayers.

Read Fortune’s independent explanation of Apple’s tax payments and how they illustrate the complexity of the international tax system.

Source: Apple Inc.

SEE ALSO:
President Trump’s tax plan aims new foreign tax at Apple, other multinationals – October 3, 2017
President Trump’s tax cuts could be YUGE for Apple – September 28, 2017
GOP tax plan calls for cutting the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent – September 27, 2017
Goldman Sachs sees $1 trillion in U.S. tax cuts coming – September 20, 2017
Apple will eventually bring billions of dollars back to the U.S. under President Trump’s tax reform plan – July 21, 2017
President Trump’s tax reform plan includes deep cuts in corporate taxes – April 26, 2017
Apple could be primed for profit explosion under President Trump’s big tax cut – April 26, 2017
Analyst: Apple could double dividend, buy Netflix with repatriated cash under President Trump’s U.S. corporate tax changes – March 17, 2017
Apple raises $10 billion in debt ahead of President Trump’s repatriation tax plans – February 3, 2017
After Apple’s blowout earnings, the Street looks toward ‘iPhone X’ and President Trump’s tax reforms – February 3, 2017
President-elect Trump’s corporate tax reform expected to have some positive impact on Apple EPS – January 14, 2017
Exploring Apple’s tax situation under U.S. President Donald Trump – November 21, 2016
Morgan Stanley: Apple stands to benefit the most from President Trump’s corporate tax plans – November 11, 2016
Apple and U.S. President-elect Trump: Can a tax cut for overseas cash heal wounds? – November 10, 2016
Donald Trump plan calls for cuts in corporate taxes, personal income tax rates – August 9, 2016
Barring a tax holiday, Apple will need to raise over $50 billion in debt the next 2 years – July 15, 2016
Cramer: Apple’s Tim Cook is ‘patriotic’ on taxes – December 21, 2015
Apple CEO Tim Cook is absolutely right – and wrong – on U.S. corporate tax policy – December 20, 2015
Apple CEO calls corporate tax rap ‘total political crap’ – December 18, 2015
Apple avoids $59.2 billion U.S. tax bill – October 7, 2015
U.S. companies now have $2.1 trillion overseas to avoid corporate taxes – March 4, 2015

72 Comments

          1. The Urban Institute was founded by LBJ and has number liberals and socialists a members.A 2005 study of media bias in The Quarterly Journal of Economics ranked UI as the 11th most liberal of the 50 most-cited think tanks and policy groups, placing it between the NAACP and the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals. According to a study by U.S. News & World Report most political campaign donations by Urban Institute employees go to Democratic politicians. Between 2003 and 2010, Urban Institute employees’ made $79,529 in political contributions, none of which went to the Republican Party.

          2. A 2005 study of media bias in The Quarterly Journal of Economics ranked UI as the 11th most liberal of the 50 most-cited think tanks and policy groups, placing it between the NAACP and the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals.[17] According to a study by U.S. News & World Report most political campaign donations by Urban Institute employees go to Democratic politicians. Between 2003 and 2010, Urban Institute employees’ made $79,529 in political contributions, none of which went to the Republican Party.[18]

          3. A 2005 study of media bias in The Quarterly Journal of Economics ranked UI as the 11th most liberal of the 50 most-cited think tanks and policy groups, placing it between the NAACP and the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals.[17] According to a study by U.S. News & World Report most political campaign donations by Urban Institute employees go to Democratic politicians. Between 2003 and 2010, Urban Institute employees’ made $79,529 in political contributions, none of which went to the Republican Party.[18]

          4. I think that repetition is more than sufficient, Kolache and King Khan. Far more than sufficient.

            I find it interesting that you are both eager to advertise alleged bias in other people’s sources, but you seem fully content with your own highly biased source, often based on circular references back to a single, flawed source.

            When I research a problem, I look at a dozen or more sources before I even begin to feel informed enough to draw any conclusions.

        1. The Heritage Foundation doesn’t give a shit about democracy or a workable republic based on work and merit. For decades they have published paper after paper defending the status quo, Wall Street greed, and multinationals.

          Why do you believe, as Heritage does, that a rich man from a foreign nation deserves special privileges above a poor man born in the USA?

          Heritage does not promote equal opportunity, they are the tool of the Rothchilds.

          1. You just demonstrated you’ve never read a single paper the Heritage Foundation has written. I don’t even have to challenge you to prove me wrong. The Heritage Foundation does not defend the status quo. . . and if you read their works, you’d know that. Nor do they promote the foreign “rich” over the poor born in this country.

            1. Excellent posts, particularly the ones that debunk DavGreg and Paul’s dubious sources, as in the Uber Liberal Urban Institute and the NYT both spreading disinformation.

              On the flip side of that coin is liberals accusing conservative organizations like the Heritage Foundation of the same spreading disinformation. So who is right?

              Only FACTS are right …

      1. Looking at increases in taxes is pointless unless you know the base of the taxes you are starting at. Here is a chart that shows you what each level is paying now. THAT points out the LIE your chart promulgates. . . because when you try to make the tax payments FAIRER, by distributing tax payments among more people those who currently DON’T pay will naturally wind up with greater increases.

        1. It is not my chart. It is from a non-partisan outfit. Others have run the numbers and they add up to a massive deficit, increase debt by over 1.5 Trillion Dollars and shift a huge amount of tax burden onto working people.

  1. This is the problem with presenting thousands to millions of pages of information without proper context, as the people who are following the rules can be conflated with those who are not to tar and feather anyone with out of context information. Apple has never (while the jobs team was in charge) evaded taxes or broken the rules. If you’ve ever gotten a pay stub from Apple (as I have when I worked in retail), every single tax is paid and correctly calculated, and if you receive any inquiries from the IRS the company contacts the agency on your behalf, as sometimes different state rates can seem off (but they’re not).

    These type of documents shouldn’t be just put out there without explanation from qualified professionals who know what is leaf and what isn’t. That’s how people get unfairly smeared, while allowing the actually guilty to walk free.

    1. That was a lie concocted by the Liberals based on ZERO knowledge of what they were talking about. The money they were talking about was ALREADY TAXED holdings, not REVENUE. They were equating savings to revenues. . . they had no clue what the differences were. They were looking at the total holdings and calculating the taxes paid on the INVESTMENT income against the entire asset as if that were the REVENUE. IDIOTS.

      Try to know what you are talking about before you open your mouth and prove you don’t have a clue.

    1. With the help of paid lobbyists and paid politicians. Hey, macgadgetfreak, how do you like paying higher taxes because others can purchase favorable legislation? Besides, only now is Apple being “honest and transparent” about its tax havens. Apple’s luster is gone. No libtard can rail against any other business or corporation without admitting Apple is no different. Well, maybe a little different, a little more duplicitous and hypocritical.

      1. Kolache, Tax avoidance is not tax evasion. Don’t like what Apple and any other tax payer is doing legally? Change the laws.

        The fact is that Apple is above board and doing everything on the books. Nothing is hidden. You can see exactly what Apple is doing in their books. It’s not hidden. It’s honest. They are NOT “tax havens,” as you put it. . . or as the “Paradise Papers” put it. Such papers are written by people who are jealous that they can’t take advantage of them. . . and can’t change the laws to make others do what they want.

        Apple pays more taxes than any other company in the world. . . and that STILL doesn’t make you happy. That’s what is pathetic. You are quite a piece of work in your pettiness.

    2. If AAPL abides by the law, they are paying the taxes due. If there are any of “deductions” to be use, employ them. Who does differently? Oh, you do, huh? You throw in a little extra for the whatever? The behavior is consistent/expected because the law enables and tax-payers want to keep as much as possible. “Ordinary” people just don’t have offshore “deductions,” but scale is the only difference.

      1. The government “allows” citizens to keep a small portion of what they earn, but permits the wealthy and corporations to keep billions of dollars. Gee, thanks, Mr. Clueless, I think I’ll use that pittance for buying food for my babies. You never said that existing tax laws are fair and just, but I appreciate your participation.

        1. and your Kolache dough is crimping your sausage? The meat of the matter is the law and it’s much more concrete than “fair,” which wasn’t the direction of the conversation. Because of your sensitivity, I’m wary to let you know that taxes will always and really, I mean always, will seem unfair to someone. Since you claim prescience, for the firt time in history, you go ahead and legislate a tax structure that will be fair and just for everyone. Modeling you, I say with smugness, thanks so much for your participation.

        2. Why then do the wealthy pay the largest portion of income taxes?

          According to the IRS, in 2016:

          The bottom 50% of income earners paid 2.8% of all US Income Taxes.
          The next 25% of income earners, taking us to 75th percentile of income levels, paid just 10.8% of all US income taxes.
          The next 15%, taking us to the 90th percentile of income levels, paid 16.3% of all US income taxes.
          The next 9%, taking us up to the 99th percentile of income
          levels, paid 20.9% of all US income taxes.
          The final 1% of income levels, all the rest, paid 38.1% of ALL US INCOME TAXES.

          In other words, the top 5% of income levels in the US, pay 59% of all US INCOME TAXES. . . yet you blithely claim that the government “allows the wealthy to keep billions of dollars.” You do not have a clue what you are talking about. . . but I just gave you one. You can Google it yourself; the facts and figures are easy to find.

          Do you really know how idiotic that makes you sound as you parrot other know nothings spouting their abysmal ignorance? Ignorance is curable, but repeating it when you can learn facts is stupidity and that goes to the core and is incurable.

      2. Legality is a much lower bar than morality. This makes social justice warrior Pipeline Timmy an even bigger hypocrite than usual.

        For the record, it is a traditional soviet debate tactic to deflect proof of guilt by claiming everyone else does it so it must be good. Society cannot sustain its infrastructure if the richest entities of the planet hoard money and pay lower taxes than the plebians who never in a billion years could ever hope to see the massive wealth that people like Pipeline Timmy won in the corporate lottery.

        1. Apple pays a higher effective tax rate than the majority of the other tech companies in the US, so what in the heck are you blithering about? Look them up. The effective tax rate, the rate these multinationals actually pay each quarter and year is available in the quarterly and annual reports. Some actually pay NOTHING, writing off huge paper losses. Others in the past years have been paying as low as 14-18%.

          Apple has consistently paying between 26% to 28% effective tax rate on BILLIONS in income. . . and in addition is paying BILLIONS in dividends on which the investors will pay additional income taxes.

          On top of those income taxes, Apple pays billions more in property taxes, Value added taxes where such taxes are collected, and payroll and excise taxes.

          The fact is that economically, businesses do not really PAY taxes. They cannot. Taxes are merely a cost of doing business and all such costs are ALWAYS passed on to the business’ customers in prices and fees they charge for their goods and services. It has to be that way. It’s all included in the accounting, because it has to be. The ONLY source of income for any business is the revenue from their sales. . . and the costs have to be deducted to determine retained earnings. Taxes are part of those costs. If there is nothing left after costs and taxes are deducted from revenues, the company will go out of business as there are no profits.

          The hypocrite here is you. The fact is that no wealthy person or corporation acts like Scrooge McDuck, keeping a money bin where they go swimming in a hoard of money, or just sit there counting it. Caches of money is never allowed to merely sit, like under a mattress, it is invested where it is put to work, generating income. Investment does not occur in a vacuum. That means it creates jobs.

  2. US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has been shown to be tied to the hip with the Russians in these papers. Who in the Trump administration isn’t tied to the Russians.

    But the Tea Party wanted to impeach Obama, because it was Tuesday.

  3. Apple can purchase lobbyists and fund elections at hundreds of dollars a pop to legislate tax laws that favor Tim Cook et al while honest citizens pay their taxes under threat by IRS. Tim Cook et al are laughing all the way to the bank. Cheer up, fanboys, Apple thanks you for your patronage.

  4. Tim Cook 2013 “Not only do we comply with the law, we comply with the spirit of the law. We don’t depend on tax gimmicks and we don’t stash money in some caribbean
    island”

    No Tim, the money was stashed in Ireland and when Apple got found out it moved it’s money to the channel islands. How exactly does that comply with the spirit of the law?

    Apple’s 2017 accounts showed they made $44.7bn outside the US and paid just $1.65bn in taxes to foreign governments, a rate of around 3.7%.

    When big corporations do pay their fair share of taxes, society suffers. Roads and schools don’t get built.

    Apple, take a long hard look at yourselves, you got caught with your pants down, you should be ashamed.

    1. Apple ashamed? Are you kidding? Time Cook et al are laughing all the way to the bank and singing,”There be rules, rules for me, and rules for thee. We make the rules, rules for me, and rules for thee. We make the rules, rules for wealthy, and rules for thee. Livin’ is free, when you make the rules.”

      1. Lovely thanks for that. Apple is legally allowed to use tax avoidance schemes but please don’t patronise the everyday man and women on the street who pay a proportionately higher percentage of their incomes in tax and then use sentences like “we comply with the spirit of the law” pullease! don’t insult my intelligence. Without morality you cannot have a functioning society and no society will eventually lead to anarchy. And yes Apple is laughing all the way to the bank, that is the point isn’t it, on this issue they are leading nation states a merry dance and whilst mega wealthy individuals and coorperations continue to stick their collective middle fingers up to nation states it’ll be minions like you and me that end up paying more tax. So yes they and all the others mega rich shirking their responsibility and using clever tax avoidence schemes should be ashamed. They are either blind to the damage their actions cause society or they couldn’t care less. I’m guessing the latter.

    2. But Apple paid a huge amount of taxes on that $44.7 billion to the US Government. That’s the way international tax law works. Multinational corporations are taxed in their nations of incorporation. BP, for example, is taxed in the UK. Samsung, even though it has subsidiaries in the US, is taxed in South Korea. General Electric, is now taxed in France since it was bought out by a French company. That is why the US government is so against companies moving their headquarters elsewhere. . . even though much of their plant and equipment remain in the US.

      Don’t like the International Tax Law treaties? You will have to change them. That is why the US is involving itself in the Ireland/EU kerfuffle about Apple and Ireland back taxes. . . because Apple ALREADY PAID TAXES on the money in Ireland. .. in the US, and if Apple is forced to pay that $15 billion to Ireland, Apple can demand and get a refund of that amount from the US government! Do you get it now?

  5. First the Panama Papers.
    Now the Paradise Papers.
    The litany of greed, corruption, secret deals, and social elitism continues. I wonder if Tim Cook and Robert Mugabe share recipes and financial tip?

  6. Multiple governments have ignored these tax loopholes for years. The lobbyists are worked hard to protect these loopholes for corporations for years and even create new ones.
    I doubt that the current US government will do anything about it since they benefit from lobbyist money.
    Personally I think it is wrong that multinational companies can avoid paying tax to the country in which the revenue was generated. I do not expect them to do that unless governments change the tax rules to prevent this from happens. Sadly I can’t see governments making those changes since the political will is not there and self interest will dominate.

    1. Politicians are generally more concerned with election and re-election, or in other words, the money to finance their campaigns. When tax laws are written the politician thinks,”Who will give me the most money, Apple or Little Grandma Brown on her pension?” Sorry, Granny, you lose, but Tim Cook thanks you for your effort.

      1. No Kolache, its the TAX LAWS and TREATIES these guys who wrote the Panama Papers and the Paradise Papers do not understand or grasp, that are not new.

        Did you know that the European Economic Union came about by way of TREATIES??? And that one of those treaties specifically prohibits the EU from interfering in a member state’s TAX LAWS in the way the EU’s Commission on Competition (which has ZERO authority in the area of tax law) is attempting to do with their orders to Ireland about their tax arrangements to attract businesses to Ireland of which Apple is just the largest (although it wasn’t when the entered into the agreements).

  7. Maybe if Regan has poured more public money into Schools, by taxing this wealth, the ignorant uneducated generation that voted for Trumpot would have known they were getting sold a nickel for a dime.

        1. Paul, I knew Ronald Reagan personally. He was not an idiot as the mainstream press tried to portray him. Do you know what his college degree was? Same as mine. Economics. He was imminently qualified for the job. Reagan showed ZERO signs of dementia in office and no signs for years after he was out of office. Your denigrating claims are mere slurs that do you no service. Ronald Reagan re-wrote every speech he gave before it was delivered, no matter who started writing it. Get a hold of some of his writings. . . there are books out there with some of them in his own hand and you will see. That is the sign of a very engaged Chief Executive.

          I doubt the teleprompter-in-chief we’ve had in the Oval Office for the previous eight years ever penned a single line of any of his speeches.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.