Apple Goes on Offense to Defend Against Jersey Island Tax Accusations

Apple Publicity Photo of Steve Jobs in Ireland in 1980

Apple went on the offensive Monday to defend itself against accusations of taxation shenanigans. The company released a 1,240 word document detailing its international tax practices and making the case that it’s the world’s biggest taxpayer. Apple’s statement is in response to reporting based on the so-called Paradise Papers.

Apple with a big pile of money

The Paradise Papers

The Paradise Papers is a brand new cache of leaked/stolen documents from the world of international finance. They detail tax sheltering and avoidance, shell companies, and other aspects of how the rich, powerful, and wealthy—corporate entities and people—have their wealth managed.

Most of the 13.4 million documents were originally from an offshore law firm called Appleby (no relation to Apple Inc.). It’s very similar to a cache called the Panama Papers released in 2015. The Paradise Papers were released to German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. 380 journalists in the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists then pored over the documents to figure out what was in them.

The Paradise Papers are shedding light on international finance, an area that usually flourishes outside the scrutiny of anyone other than the parties involved. In addition to Apple, documents have shown that some Trump Administration members have financial ties to Russia and its leader, Vladimir Putin. There are likely to be many more revelations about and accusations leveled against a variety of other parties stemming from these documents.

Apple, however, is ever ripe for a headline because it’s the world’s most profitable public company, and it has some US$252 billion in cash held offshore.

The Stories about Apple

Reporting on Apple regarding the Paradise Papers involves an island quasi-nation in the English Channel called Jersey. More technically, it’s an independently governed Crown dependency, which answers to the English monarchy, but has its own parliament.

Fun stuff, right? Well, it might be if you’re a multinational corporation shopping around for a country that will give you a good deal for parking a subsidiary entity. Apple apparently did that in 2015 in the wake of an ongoing fight over its 6,000-person strong Irish subsidiary.

Coverage from The New York Times, the BBC, The Washington Post, and other prominent newspapers has mostly been along the lines of “Aha! We figured out where Apple’s new tax haven is! It’s Jersey!”

Coverage has further stated or suggested that Apple is dodging taxes—which would be illegal if true. At the very least, many articles suggest, Apple is skirting the law to a greater or lesser degree.

Next: Apple’s Defense and The Double Irish

5 thoughts on “Apple Goes on Offense to Defend Against Jersey Island Tax Accusations

  • Jamie, please list 3 people you know that pay more taxes than the minimum allowable? I hope you shame all your friends that avoid paying more than the absolute minimum they can figure out to pay. You know, because it’s morally wrong to legally minimize your taxes. 🙄

  • As you correctly point out; this is really a non-story. It would be fiscally irresponsible for Apple not to take every measure to improve shareholder value. If there is a legal way to defer or pay less taxes, the officers of the company are compelled to use it. Anything else is mismanagement.

  • They are the world’s largest company, naturally they pay the most taxes. It doesn’t change the unethical nature of what they did and continue to do. I know they are far from alone in this, but so what? Sounds like a thousand pages of chutzpah to me. I don’t respect them as a company at this point. Between stuff like this and wrapping every innovation or problem in rhetoric or hyperbole (maybe there is a dearth of competant coders, but how does rhetoric address that? No, I am not going to live full-time in an AR paradise. AI algorithms could actually be useful if they were applied to real, likely smaller conundrums and not sci-fi fantasy or the profit machine. I’m sorry, but my DSLR lenses still dust the a$$ of the iPhone, yes, even the X. Etc.). I didn’t even get into the increasingly dropping and beta-like quality of their products of late. It’s been a fun 25 years or so, but I can’t take Apple seriously anymore. They make the stuff I prefer to use, and it pretty much ends there. :/ To those that like the company and enjoy doing so, good on you. Maybe they’ll turn it around some day.

  • I would be open to tax amensty for US companies bringing the money home, with some restructions. It stays in US banks, goes into domestic business exapansion, and such. Those are just some quick thoughts and the details need to be thought out by professionals.

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