Bad Apple or Good Apple in the Tax Avoidance Bushel?

Carl Levin, the chairman of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, ahead of a high-profile congressional hearing accused Apple of seeking “the Holy Grail of tax avoidance” by creating “offshore entities holding tens of billions of dollars, while claiming to be tax resident nowhere.” Apple, the Cupertino, CA giant. recently “took a bite” out of its corporate tax liabilities and caused a public outcry. But the ethical issues raised by such a move do not begin or end with them alone, observed Crown CEO Chuck Bentley in the Washington Post, in a piece titled “Apple’s tax ethics: Unpatriotic or Shrewdness in Action.”

May 30 2013 by

Former U.S. Senator John E. Sununu (Republican, New Hampshire), cautions Apple critics to take a hard dispassionate look at the tax systems and its competitive effects. He points the finger at the U. S. government over instituting tax laws that discourage corporations like Apple from repatriating its $40 billion in overseas cash. In an op-ed piece published by Boston Globe, Sununu observes that Apple, like any other multinational company, sells its products and makes money in dozens of countries globally. The federal government is now seeking ways to tax international earnings at a higher rate of a whopping 35 percent.

“The U.S. government, unlike most others, attempts to collect taxes on all of those profits, not just those earned in the United States,” Sununu argues. Indeed, only Bangladesh and Guyana have higher tax rates on repatriated earnings versus the U.S. government. Sununu adds: “Senator Levin and his staff believe that it is wrong for companies and individuals to engage in behavior that avoids taxes. They hoped that calling out Cook might generate support for legislation that targets companies like Apple.

Apple CEO Tim Cook’s appearance before a Congressional sub-committee provided a lesson in the complex, convoluted, and often uncompetitive nature of America’s corporate tax code. It also provided a reminder that those responsible for the mess were asking the questions, not sitting at the witness table.”