Apple CEO Tim Cook dismisses tax avoidance allegations as 'total political crap'

Cook said it was not 'reasonable' for Apple to pay the full rate of US corporation tax

Doug Bolton
Monday 21 December 2015 13:47 GMT
Tim Cook speaks during the Apple announcement of the iPad Air in 2013
Tim Cook speaks during the Apple announcement of the iPad Air in 2013 (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Apple CEO Tim Cook has dismissed claims that his company paid very little in US corporation taxes on billions of dollars of overseas revenue as "total political crap" in an interview with American news programme 60 Minutes.

Responding to the US Government's claim that Apple engages in a "sophisticated scheme" to avoid paying tax on $74 billion (£496.5 billion) of revenues held overseas, Cook said: "That is total political crap. There is no truth behind it. Apple pays every tax dollar we owe."

That figure was agreed upon during a 2013 US Senate investigation into Apple's tax practices, which found that Apple had paid just two per cent - or around $1.48 billion - on $74 billion in overseas income.

This was largely due to Irish tax laws, which allows companies to be incorporated in the country without being tax resident. This loophole, which was closed in the UK over 20 years ago, has resulted in a number of tech giants like Google, Apple and Facebook locating their European headquarters in Dublin.

The US has leaned on Ireland to change their tax laws, but the huge number of Irish jobs that rely on American multinationals mean they look likely to remain in place, at least until 2020, when the Irish Government has said the loophole will come to an end.

When asked by interviewer Charlie Rose how he feels when Congress tells him he's a tax avoider, Cook said: "What I told them and what I'll tell you and the folks watching tonight, it we pay more taxes in [the US] than anyone."

He was also asked why he doesn't 'bring home' the revenues his company made overseas, to which he replied: "I'd love to bring it home."

When pressed on why he doesn't, Cook said: "Because it would cost me 40 per cent to bring it home. And I don't think that's a reasonable thing to do."

"This is a tax code, Charlie, that was made for the industrial age, not the digital age. It's backwards. It's awful for America. It should have been fixed many years ago. It's past time to get it done."

Apple is not the only company to have come under fire for tax avoidance - this summer, it was revealed the Amazon's UK business legitimately paid only £11.9 million in corporation tax in 2014, despite taking £5.3 billion in sales from British shoppers.

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