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back to article It's a fiddle! Funnyman's Irish tax flashmob floods Apple flagship store

Comedian and activist Mark Thomas threw a riotous Irish-themed party inside Apple's flagship store in London to protest against the iPhone giant's tiny tax bills. The left-wing agitator led a group of about 50 protesters into the swish Regent Street shop, where they waved signs reading "you are now entering Irish territory" and …

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Bronze badge
Stop

Please stop...

perpetuating the myth that Mark Thomas is "Funny" or a "Comedian"

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Re: Please stop...

Well they did rename his old TV programme "The Mark Thomas Comedy Product" to "The Mark Thomas Product". I'm guessing someone was pissed off under the trades descriptions act or something!

He's worth a watch though sometimes even if it is difficult to make a standup routine out of fucking with arms dealers or corporate bastards!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Please stop...

Mark Steel would have been better, and possibly bitterer

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Please stop...

That time were he arranged for an endless convoy of chauffeur-driven jags with "Mr Prescott" written on card in the front window to pick him up, and just had them all repeatedly waved past by police officers had me in stitches. :)

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Re: Please stop...

And funny!

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Re: Please stop...

"Mark Steel would have been better, and possibly bitterer"

Both are appearing on the same bill next week for charity in Hastings:

http://www.dlwp.com/event/mark-thomas-mark-steel-and-friends

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Please stop...

@AceRimmer

He must be a comedian. He appeared on stage with George Galloway. No-one other than a comedian or a fool would do that. I choose not to believe someone who went to a fairly decent Independent school could be that much of a fool.

As for "left-wing agitator", agitation is shouting a bit, doing things like this. Placing a bounty on the head of an elected head of state in a magazine column isn't agitation, it's either comedy or criminal. As I don't recall reading of his arrest, again, he must be a comedian.

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WTF?

Speak for yourself

Personally I find him fecking hilarious and wish they would give him another TV show. Horses for courses though I guess. Some people find Russell Bland to be side splittingly funny, whereas I find him dull, mediocre and obnoxious.

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Re: Speak for yourself

Couldn't have put it better myself.

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Re: Please stop...

No he's not "ha ha" funny, he's bitterly funny. I love the watching his shows, he makes you feel very uncomfortable which is what good creativity should be about. Even if you don't want to go and protest about something big, the next time you get irritated by a surly shop assistant you have a lot more gumption and make a point to demand your rights.

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Silver badge

Well-intentioned but ...

... buying a Mac from John Lewis is hardly going to hurt Apple, is it?

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FAIL

Re: Well-intentioned but ...

Duh. Of course it is - if only marginally. Buy from apple they get the full retail amount of your cash. Buy from JL Apple get the full wholesale amount of cash. Clue Retail Price > Wholesale price.

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Re: Well-intentioned but ...

better still - don't like it don't buy it

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Thumb Down

Re: Well-intentioned but ...

On the subject of which, has anyone ever tried to buy a new Mac at a discount? I looked the other week (for the missus) and every online store I checked seemed to be selling at the same price as the Apple Store. Anti-competitive at all..?

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Re: Well-intentioned but ...

Neither of which they will pay much tax on

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Re: Well-intentioned but ...

Have a look after the WWDC. I noticed last year Amazon dropped the prices on some of the "old" models after the refreshed models were announced. Apple try and wind down supply prior to the WWDC (Airs are in short supply at the moment, so they'll almost certainly get a refresh), but there's always a few bits of surplus stock that get marked down if you're quick.

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Unhappy

Re: Well-intentioned but ...

Cos Apple sell to fanbois at such a low price compared to the wholesale price it's charging the various reseller companies, it would be foolish of any reseller to go lower. It's not a conspiracy, it's a commercial necessity!

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Re: Well-intentioned but ...

I'm glad you put "Compared to wholesale prices" in there. My first thought was "Apple and Low Price? Isn't that an oxymoron?" until I read that.

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Go

'bout time

Nice to see Mr Thomas getting back into the greater public eye. I remember the Comedy Product.. and watching him at stupid o'clock in the morning at the Reading festival. More power to this man's elbow.

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Re: 'bout time

Always liked Mark Thomas - ever since the comedy product...

Met him on a few occasions, and he's a real nice guy...

Martin

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Trollface

Up with this sort of thing. Now Mark Thomas is on the case the downfall of Apple is imminent!

MWAHAHAHAHA

etc..

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Silver badge

I like this

In itself it changes nothing, but it rankles, it gets under the skin of corporates, it gets things discussed and gets wider attention. Excellent point about John Lewis for instance - again a small action, but small actions and small changes in customer behaviour aggregate... Then people listen.

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Anonymous Coward

I wonder.....

if Mr Thomas plans to bring his tour to some of the tax havens under UK control such as Jersey, Guernsey and Sark.

I'm sure his tax evasion material will go down a bomb in these places.

I also wonder if he plans to bring his flashmob to such of the British companies in the FTSE100 who use the exact same tax loopholes to minimise their tax exposure. Strangely all of the media focus has been on US companies.

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Re: I wonder.....

Or if he plans on bringing this sort of Toora-loora-top-o-de-mornin-begorrah-where's-me-leprechaun Oirishness on a tour to Ireland? We'd *love* that, I can tell you.

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Re: I wonder.....

depends what media you're reading I guess. Private Eye frequently points out the tax dodging scams of UK firms. In fact the most recent edition had a story about Vodafone, the one before had Lycamobile...

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WTF?

$100Bn cash pile

What I don't understand (tax issues aside) is why the shareholders don't demand a goodly-sized cut of the $100bn cash reserve as a dividend? Why does the company (looking at is purely as a business) need such a large reserve?

Looking at it another way it's 4 years' profit so perhaps it isn't as enormous in relation to that as the raw number seems, but is it usual for companies to retain that much cash? I don't know the R&D spend to bring out a new product, but it's surely a fraction of that?

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Coat

Re: $100Bn cash pile

If I was Ireland, I'd legislate a windfall tax on Apple, say for the $100bn they have there, and pay down the national debt. Economy fixed. Lure them in with low rates, and then see them off.

(For Apple, feel free to substitute Tesco, Google, etc. Anyway, I thought Ireland was old hat these days? IIRC., the preachy, self righteous tax-avoider-in-chief, aka Boneo out of that U2 moved his tax affairs from the emerald isle to the Netherlands.)

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Facepalm

Re: $100Bn cash pile

Isn't that what Apple have proposed? They proposed a scheme whereby they raise $$$ in the US with a bond sale. Then they use that cash to give the stockholders a dividend. This way that can legally pay a dividend without bringing even $1 onshore to the US and paying the 35% tax on it..

Now that $100bn would go a long way to getting rid of Eire's nation debt. That must be tempting for the politico's in Dublin.

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Pirate

Re: $100Bn cash pile

As I recall one of the problems Apple have is if they try to bring the cash back into the US they'll be hit with something like 30% tax so effectively they have this huge cash pile showing up as profit but they can't use it for anything.

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Re: $100Bn cash pile

The problem Apple have is that they've parked their cash in a location where no tax is paid - US considers it to be in Ireland so they won't tax it until it comes back into the US while Ireland consider it to be "stateless" so isn't taxed in Ireland. Basically to use the money Apple will need to pay the normal tax on it except they seem to be holding out for the US treasury to annouce a special amnesty to all US companies to repatriate overseas captial without having to pay (the full) tax .... probably wrapped up as a "helping US companies bring overseas money back to invest in US jobs" measure or something like that -- they did this once before so everyone like Apple etc is assuming they'll do it again. And in the meantime they can use the cash pile as collateral to raise enourmous money on bonds at low interest (because if necessary they could redeem all the bonds with the 70% of the Irish cash pile that would be left if they pulled it back to the US and paid tax)

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Re: $100Bn cash pile

"Now that $100bn would go a long way to getting rid of Eire's nation debt. That must be tempting for the politico's in Dublin."

Not really. Do it once and see how quickly Apple, Google Amazon et al leave making everyone redundant on the way out. -- Will the last person leaving Ireland please turn out the lights.

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Re: $100Bn cash pile

there's probably a sweet spot for a windfall tax between Apple throwing up their hands completely at Ireland and buggering off to somewhere else, pausing only to pay out redundancy and Apple deciding to repatriate the cash and paying the US Treasury.

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Re: $100Bn cash pile

"As I recall one of the problems Apple have is if they try to bring the cash back into the US they'll be hit with something like 30% tax so effectively they have this huge cash pile showing up as profit but they can't use it for anything."

That's not a problem: you just bring the cash into the US and pay the 30% tax and then use the other 70% for stuff you want to do. I see no difficulties.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: $100Bn cash pile

Serious question. If, as Apple have claimed, they have already paid tax on this income earned in other territories, why does the US feel it has any kind of entitlement to 35% of it? You can substitute any other US company that does similar, including Google, with Apple...

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Re: $100Bn cash pile

"If, as Apple have claimed, they have already paid tax on this income earned in other territories, why does the US feel it has any kind of entitlement to 35% of it?"

Well, aside from any logic, it is consistent with other rulings on tax in the US.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-19101429

I have some sympathy with this approach: if you are a UK subject, for example, you pay UK income tax and if you are resident in France then you obey French law. That will have disadvantages, sure, but what's the logic of not doing so? Do we say that when we're in another country that we don't have to obey the law? Or that if we make a billion quid we don't have to pay tax on it if we're paid the cash while on holiday?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: $100Bn cash pile

I'm sorry, but I can't see your point. As far as I can see, Apple have said that this income has already been taxed where it was earned. I'm questioning the law, why does the US Federal Government think that it has a right to tax money not made in the US? The law is wrong, and Apple (of for that matter if your ideological view support Google) were right to point this out. Under US federal law, they aren't doing anything unlawful. They simply do not have to repatriate the cash.

As a UK subject that has lived and worked in France, I paid income tax in the state where I resided (France). I didn't pay a single penny of income tax in the UK as it wasn't earned there, neither was I required to. Why should I?

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One for you nineteen for me

But Apple haven't paid any tax on the earnings in the country that they were made, the US included.

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Big Brother

Re: $100Bn cash pile

It's the US tax way- even the 2012 Olympics winners from the US had to pay tax on the cash and a percentage of the medal's worth...

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Re: $100Bn cash pile

"I'm questioning the law, why does the US Federal Government think that it has a right to tax money not made in the US? "

They have, or take, the right to tax the income of their citizens; what real relevance is it where the income started? What matters is that it's income of a USian.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: $100Bn cash pile

"They have, or take, the right to tax the income of their citizens" 35% of it? Frankly, whichever way you look at that, it's wrong.

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Devil

Re: $100Bn cash pile

Exactly. I mean they'd *only* be left with erm $70 billion so well that would leave them a bit short...

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Re: $100Bn cash pile

""They have, or take, the right to tax the income of their citizens" 35% of it? Frankly, whichever way you look at that, it's wrong"

In what way?

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Re: $100Bn cash pile

"What I don't understand (tax issues aside) is why the shareholders don't demand a goodly-sized cut of the $100bn cash reserve as a dividend?"

Because the shareholders didn't buy the shares for the dividend, they bought the shares in expectation of a rising stock price. They're not investors, they're speculators, and that $100 billion cash pile actually does more to boost the stock price when it's off-shore and untaxed, than it would if it was turned into a $70billion on-shore cash pile, and was available to pay dividends.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: $100Bn cash pile

"Exactly. I mean they'd *only* be left with erm $70 billion so well that would leave them a bit short..."

That's got nothing to do with anything whatsoever. The point is that the US government isn't entitled to a single cent of money that was made outside of it's borders. Doesn't matter if it is $10 or if it is $100 billion.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: $100Bn cash pile

In what way is it right?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "made outside of it's borders" [sic]

You're missing a really important point here. That the profit being discussed was not, truthfully, generated inside of Ireland's borders.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "made outside of it's borders" [sic]

What? That got *nothing* to do with things either! No one, not even Apple has suggested otherwise. I think you are confusing things with Google's case...

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Re: $100Bn cash pile

Tell that to the US IRS - if you are a USA citizen and earning money anywhere in the world they'll try and tax you, less any credit that may (or may not) accrue if you've already paid tax in a country which has a tax treaty with the USA.

Theoretically it's possible to end up with a 100+% overall tax rate.

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Facepalm

Own goal ?

Video edited using iMovie

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