back to article Making us pay tax will DESTROY EUROPE, roars Apple's Tim Cook

Forcing Apple to pay the same tax rate as other companies will lead to the destruction of Europe, according to its not-entirely objective CEO Tim Cook. "This would strike a devastating blow to the sovereignty of EU member states over their own tax matters, and to the principle of certainty of law in Europe," Cook said in a …

  1. sandman

    "A bastard bloody ukefuckinglele". That gets an upvote ;)

  2. Hollerithevo Silver badge

    Actually...

    It's not neoliberalism, it's just capitalism. Liberalism always seeks to tax businesses where they think they can and should. Capitalism and pro-capitalism always seeks to reduce tax. For corporations, that is.

  3. Julz

    Re: re: Google and others

    Oracle does the same...

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "A bastard bloody ukefuckinglele"

    Ukeleles in adverts, urgh. Lazy shorthand for cutesy, childlike (would be) innocence/honesty-symbolising "I'm just a simple down-to-earth guy/girl" tweeness. (Typically used in conjunction with its visual equivalent, intentionally washed out contre-jour lighting.)

    Fauxcial media (#) flavoured crap.

    This NSFW clip pretty much sums up why I wouldn't trust that affectedly cutesy paper-thin bulls**t as far as I could throw it. :-)

    (#) I'm torn between my inherent dislike of the word "faux" and the succinct oh-so-cleverness of this phrase. :-/

  5. Bill Sticker

    Yeah, but...

    Google are next on the list for a huge tax bill from the EU. Gosh, this could be fun to watch.

  6. toughluck

    Re: Actually...

    I'm convinced by the argument that corporations should be taxed 0%, but all profits should be distributed to shareholders as dividend and taxed as personal income at that point.

    The only reason corporations are taxed is because they're not doing that.

  7. Naselus Silver badge

    "Some of these morons really believe Apple is alone in taking advantage of Ireland's tax law, and Google and others are paying much more"

    Not anyone who's posted in this thread thus far. In fact, I knida doubt anyone is under much illusion about all the tech giants being tax avoiding bastards of the first order. The point is rather more that 'but everyone is doing it' is the excuse of a five year old, and shouldn't be used to defend a multi-billion dollar company, even if you really, really like their phones.

  8. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    So, paying tax will destroy Europe

    What it will destroy is your mile-high revenue generated by the difference between slave wages and the obscene prices you sell your stuff at.

    Right now, the little people - you know, those serfs you expect to walk upon - could do with a little less bad news and a bit more local funding for stuff that actually needs to get done. You whine about destroying Europe, but you never hear "no" from your banker, now do you ?

    What is destroying the economy of this world is the unjust pooling of money in the hands of the few who already have way more than enough, and their subsequent influence on law and political policy that ensures the status quo is not changed.

    Pay your taxes - they fund roads, hospitals and schools and I doubt very much that that will destroy Europe.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: So, paying tax will destroy Europe

    What is destroying the economy of this world is the unjust pooling of money

    Unjust PILING, not pooling.

    Quoting "Hello Dolly": Money is like manure, you need to spread it to make new things grow. If money is sucked out of circulation in jurisdictions where most of the world R&D is done and PILED (not pooled) elsewhere no new things will grow.

    The "transfer of money to R&D" aka "financing of californication" is pittance compared to the normal R&D spend of an average 2nd tier developed economy with thriving economy and working taxation. Just have a look at what was financed in the 60-es and 70-es (and not even in the USA). Have a look at what even G7 countries are capable of financing now. In fact, even the valley is producing very little now (using the trickle of money which flows back from PILEs). That is not surprising as it is handed in small VC deals. It is _NOT_ spread and most importantly very little of it goes to true R&D in universities and academia.

    That is the real crime here, not anything else. And frankly, I have absolutely no sympathy to any of the master criminals - starting from Cook and Jobs themselves.

  10. Stoneshop Silver badge

    Re: So, paying tax will destroy Europe

    What it will destroy is your mile-high revenue generated by the difference between slave wages and the obscene prices you sell your stuff at.

    Destroy? It's not an insignificant sum, but it's just a quarter of APPL's annual PROFIT.

    Cook, stop moaning. Neither you, nor anyone employed by Apple* is going to be reduced to eating stale bread and wearing second-hand clothes.

    * explicitely excluding supplier's employees, if that wasn't obvious.

  11. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    Politics as usual

    It's not that politicians are corrupt that surprises me, they are politicians and you do expect that - what continuously amazes me is that they can be brought so cheaply. The root of this tax agreement is to enable a few of them to claim that they have created jobs and, on the side, to get to meet a few big name business people and get their pictures in the newspapers.

    And for this they give it all way - it's easy, after all they're not spending their money are they? Pity about the healthcare service but you know, the money's not there to really keep it going ...

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just Heating Up My Popcorn ...

    ... waiting for the FBI to help "leak" emails confirming the special deal between Apple and the Irish government.

    There are always repercussions for refusing to comply.

  13. asdf Silver badge

    Re: Just Heating Up My Popcorn ...

    Wait what? The FBI is going to toe the treasury line and be anti EU on this. If they leak emails it will be showing all the obvious state aid given to Airbus or Volkswagen (nothing like a representative of Saxony being on the board), probably followed then by overseas leaks on Boeing, rinse repeat.

  14. veti Silver badge
    Coat

    Re: Just Heating Up My Popcorn ...

    Presumably because Apple is loudly resisting the FBI's efforts to backdoor their kit.

    (Ooh err missus)

  15. esque

    Re: Just Heating Up My Popcorn ...

    Little nit-pick: Saxony != Lower Saxony != Saxony-Anhalt

    All three are German states, but Volkswagen AG is situated in and the company is partly-owned by Lower Saxony.

  16. Roland6 Silver badge

    Re: Just Heating Up My Popcorn ...

    Wait what? The FBI is going to toe the treasury line and be anti EU on this.

    Depends, on the outcome they are wanting. Perhaps some disclosure may be deemed necessary to encourage Apple et al to stop coming up with more and more inventive ways of hiding profits offshore and simply repatriate them to the states. Remember the US Treasury doesn't benefit from Apple holding profits offshore and using them to repay the 'loans' Apple took out to pay dividends...

  17. J. R. Hartley Silver badge

    Tim Cock

  18. Mage Silver badge
    Coffee/keyboard

    Two options

    No corporation tax for any businesses anywhere: Tax share income, and tax profits on selling shares much harder.

    OR

    ALL businesses should pay same corporation tax everywhere.

    The US claim that this is "robbing" the US tax payers is laughable, with 40% US Corporation tax, the Multinationals simply keep the profits outside the USA and borrow in USA if they need to spend there! In the unlikely event that Apple pays this bill, it will be out of the cash mountain they have no intention ever of bringing to USA under current USA tax rules!

    The present global system and especially the silly USA 40% and taxation of US individuals living abroad is crazy.

    Why am I having to prove to USA Tax people I'm not American, even though I'm not in America, for my personal sales outside USA because an American company is retailing for me?

    It's the USA tax system that's broken, Mr Obama, not the EU.

    I'll reserve my opinion about the Irish Government. though it sounds like that they have been suckered by the Big USA multinationals if they are not even paying the Irish 12.5% or what ever it is (which the EU is happy with, it's Ireland charging 0.5 to 0.05% tax that's alarming the EU!)

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Two options

    Well we can't change the friggin corporate tax rate because we have all these ignorant ass 3rd world poor red states whose politicians ironically are most for doing it but are incapable of doing anything but proving government is broken (especially when they are in it).

  20. Novex

    This head office that is only 'on paper' - don't we mean 'in the cloud'?

    Oh, and 13bn Euros, that's pocket change if the reports of Apple's cash reserves are anything to go by.

  21. Paul Shirley

    Pocket change yes. The domino that starts the topple?

  22. Bob Dole (tm)
    Facepalm

    I don't get it.

    A business (doesn't matter who) made a deal with the local government. That company then followed the terms of the deal. No one forced said government to make the deal yet they did.

    I'm struggling to see exactly how Apple now "owes" more. This is called negotiation and it's a fundamental part of how local governments literally EVERYWHERE operate.

    Tell you what, how about the people who are so pissed off about this talk to their local governments and have them fess up to all the deals they've made to either entice new businesses to come in or to keep existing ones around. I think you'd be more than a little surprised.

  23. Luke Worm

    Re: I don't get it.

    This kind of sweetheart deal is considered illegal state aid according to EU competition rules.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: I don't get it.

    Its not that simple. Ireland is in the EU. The EU has tax rules for member states. Both Ireland and Apple broke them - probably knowingly. State aid is not allowed under the rules - which is what this ridiculous tax deal amounts to.

  25. Mephistro Silver badge

    Re: I don't get it.(@ Luke Worm & AC)

    I'd like to add that Eire also has laws against such "tax arrangements". Funny, the way politicians sometimes wipe they arses with their own countries laws and then shout bloody murder when they get caught.

    Fuck'em all with a cactus!

  26. Bob Dole (tm)

    Re: I don't get it.

    Then this is something the EU needs to take up with Ireland directly.

    If Ireland broke EU law by agreeing to a deal that they weren't supposed to then Ireland should be the one being pursued by the EU for any taxes they failed to claim.

    If the EU does this then you can be sure all the other member states will go ahead and review any tax agreements they have in place or are considering. If the EU doesn't go directly after Ireland then there is little to no reason for a member state to care about the EU law. Meanwhile any and all foreign businesses will think twice about deals an EU member country might propose...

  27. bazza Silver badge

    Re: I don't get it.

    @Bob Dole (tm),

    "Then this is something the EU needs to take up with Ireland directly."

    That's exactly what the EU has just done. The "attack" on Apple is indirect.

  28. John 98

    Re: I don't get it.

    The Irish government cut a deal with Apple which was and is illegal under Irish law. The executive overstepped the mark and is now being challenged in court. Poor Apple when they are paying no tax anywhere and were probably fully aware that their cosy deal was illegal? Come, sir!

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: I don't get it.(@ Luke Worm & AC)

    Now - what has the cactus done to you in order to deserve such an awful ordeal?

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: I don't get it.

    >This kind of sweetheart deal is considered illegal state aid according to EU competition rules.

    Just a coincidence the first company they are going after is a US company with the deepest pockets. Of course no sweetheart deals would ever be offered to an EU based company. Have a feeling the US tax man might start to disagree about that. If they are serious about tax avoidance they probably should have went after an EU company first to show its not a nation block trade issue which now it quickly could devolve into.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: I don't get it.

    >nation block trade issue which now it quickly could devolve into.

    Probably not the best idea with the US economy remarkably strong and numerous Italian and a few German banks on their last legs not to mention with the other political challenges facing the EU.

  32. Bob Dole (tm)

    Re: I don't get it.

    I'm just saying that it appears that Apple acted and negotiated in good faith believing that Ireland had the taxing authority that it claimed. It's one thing to say this agreement is now null and void going forward; it's quite another to reach back into time and change the application of a tax code to grab more money.

    It just seems that the all of the EU member states are continuing to lose sovereignty with each passing year. Maybe that's what the people want; I certainly don't know, but things like this make Brexit look like it was a good idea after all from a business perspective. Certainly if I had a company with offices in the EU I'd be reviewing every agreement I made with a governmental authority with the possibility of moving those operations to friendlier climates.

  33. gnasher729 Silver badge

    Re: I don't get it.

    "If Ireland broke EU law by agreeing to a deal that they weren't supposed to then Ireland should be the one being pursued by the EU for any taxes they failed to claim."

    You don't get it. Ireland isn't pursued to pay anything. Ireland is pursued to open its bank accounts and let Apple pay 13 billion into Ireland's bank accounts.

  34. tgm

    Re: I don't get it.

    it appears that Apple acted and negotiated in good faith believing that Ireland had the taxing authority that it claimed.

    Hahaha! So Apple's army of tax lawyers are claiming ignorance of EU tax law? That's their defense?

    "Sorry officer, but I bought this bag of weed in good faith believing that surfer dude over there had the legal authority to sell it to me. I didn't know it was illegal!"

  35. veti Silver badge

    Re: I don't get it.

    @Bob Dole (tm): First, as has been explained, the EU isn't saying Apple has done anything wrong. They're saying Ireland has done something wrong.

    It is possible that Apple, being a resourceful company with no shortage of lawyers, knew that Ireland was exceeding its authority in the deal it struck. But that's conjectural, and unless it can be proven, Apple won't be punished. Merely required to pay the back taxes it owes, with no penalty or even interest charges.

    "EU member states continuing to lose sovereignty" is one of those... slurs, I suppose is the best word, that relies on not thinking too carefully about what "sovereignty" is. It's the kind of thing Putin's people have been saying a lot recently, in their remorseless efforts to undermine the EU (which worked a treat with Brexit). But "being told off for breaking the rules you've agreed to abide by" is not a loss of sovereignty.

    The fact is that - thanks to Brexit - we're just about to discover whether or not EU member states still have meaningful "sovereignty". If Britain is allowed to leave with a minimum of fuss and without punitive retaliation, then sovereignty is as good as it ever was, for whatever that's worth. If not - then the EU has overstepped its legitimacy, and the Brexiters were right all along. I'll be agog to see which it is.

  36. Teiwaz Silver badge

    Re: I don't get it.

    The fact is that - thanks to Brexit - we're just about to discover whether or not EU member states still have meaningful "sovereignty". If Britain is allowed to leave with a minimum of fuss and without punitive retaliation, then sovereignty is as good as it ever was, for whatever that's worth. If not - then the EU has overstepped its legitimacy, and the Brexiters were right all along. I'll be agog to see which it is.

    Getting out is not the problem, it's renegotiating a deal as an outsider with the EU for when after we've left is the issue, given a lot of the promises of the Brexit campaigners made run contrary to basic conditions of non-member EU market access.

  37. Dave Bell

    Re: I don't get it.

    There are several big, questionable, deals in the EU. And every country in the EU is supposed to at least stay within the rather generous lower limits on tax rates, both VAT and corporation tax.

    Apple, Paypal, Amazon, Starbucks, Google, they all take advantage of the tax differences and other details of international tax law. Until there was a recent change in VAT rules, those ebooks you bought from Amazon were taxed at a special, low, VAT rate. Now, for virtual goods, it's the country of the buyer which counts.

    There are local taxes in the USA too, and it can get complicated. They affect where big businesses have their warehouses. Customers are expected to pay the tax on "imported" goods in some states, but enforcement is patchy.

    What we're getting from the EU looks more like the Rule of Law than what has been happening. You have to wonder just what some British politicians are running away from.

  38. Dave Bell

    Re: I don't get it.

    I don't disagree with that, but I would rather not be living in a country that conducts such an experiment.

    There are signs that British governments are OK with the proles being experimental subjects, without asking for formal consent.

  39. Pseu Donyme

    re: tax deals

    There should be none, really. Instead, corporations pay tax on their profits at the non-negotiable corporate tax rate, same for any and all, where the bookkeeping rules for calculating the profit are likewise non-negotiable, same for any and all. As far as I can see this is what EU Commission is after here so that competition is not distorted due to company specific deals amounting to state aid.

  40. Baldy50

    Re: I don't get it.

    With regards to renegotiating a deal as an outsider, the EU has in place trade deals in with fifty non EU countries, so if Mexico can strike a deal and pay nothing in then so should we.

    I hope May does a Thatcher on them at the negotiating table and I'd love to see Farage their too, he probably knows the workings of the EU better than any UK MP!

    I suspect Tim Cook as many other business leaders supported the remain campaign, well you got something big enough to stand up to you and the EU is correct on this issue of a seriously dodgy tax arrangement.

    Lagarde and the IMF also supported remain and she pays no tax whatsoever on her salary of over 300K Euros.

    It's always good to see bureaucracy work for a change especially against huge corporations like Apple, wonder who's next!

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: I don't get it.

    The problem is with the likes of Amazon, I get charged VAT at 20% on purchases even if I am outside the EU and by EU law, such purchases are not subject to VAT.

    Go on, try buying something using your UK Credit Card from Amazon when you are physically in the USA and see if you can do it without paying VAT even if you ship to a US Zip code.

    The saying about Death and Taxes is very true.

  42. AIBailey

    Re: I don't get it.

    @Bob Dole (tm): First, as has been explained, the EU isn't saying Apple has done anything wrong. They're saying Ireland has done something wrong.

    Apple will have been 100% aware that this "deal" was nothing more than a means to entice them to invest in Ireland by providing a means for them to avoid paying tax. The (non)existence of a phantom head office goes some way to proving this.

    As you pointed out, Apple are not being punished, merely being "notified" that they've not been paying as much tax as they should. As for them "possibly" knowing that Ireland was bending rules, are we to believe that at no point over the past years have a couple of Apple accountants had a chat at the water cooler that goes something like "Y'know Bob, I'm pretty sure that our tax bill should be more than 0.005%, do you think I should mention it to anyone?". Anyone working in finance, especially within Apple, would be able to see that this is tax avoidance of the highest order.

  43. naive

    Re: I don't get it.

    What is unclear about this ?. Apple did not make a deal with just the Irish government, they made a deal BECAUSE they had the intention to funnel profits from other EU countries to the tax sinkhole they negotiated with them.

    In the end, they could have known this was morally wrong, even when pressed by Wall Street to do so.

    Now we have the ridiculous situation that the Irish government refuses 13 billion in taxes... when a government starts refusing tax money, something must be fishy.

    I pay 60%-70% of my disposable income in taxes, so please let apple pay a bit more as 0.005% so my rates can be reduced (income tax + VAT + special taxes on gas and other ATF related items).

  44. CustardGannet

    Re: I don't get it.

    @ naïve - "special taxes on gas and other ATF related items"

    I'm guessing you're American, if 'Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms' is a category in your annual budget.

  45. Yesnomaybe

    Re: I don't get it.

    Simple solution to this really. Brussels cut £13Bn of EU funds going to Ireland. There. Balance restored.

  46. Roland6 Silver badge

    Re: I don't get it.

    Re: Just a coincidence the first company they are going after is a US company with the deepest pockets.

    No coincidence, the companies that stand to gain the most from playing fast and loose with the EU tax rules are going to be those who's HQ's are ultimately outside the EU! Companies HQ'd within the EU have less scope to avoid paying taxes on revenues derived from EU sales...

    As for the deepest pockets, well the EU has started to lift the lid on how they've managed to obtain such deep pockets...

  47. ascii bandit

    Re: I don't get it.

    They have, repeatedly. This is not the first case!

    But, its the first with a large american company.

    Perhaps do research before posting?

  48. Roland6 Silver badge

    Re: I don't get it.

    Then this is something the EU needs to take up with Ireland directly.

    If Ireland broke EU law by agreeing to a deal that they weren't supposed to then Ireland should be the one being pursued by the EU for any taxes they failed to claim.

    The EU has taken it up with IRE, that is why this has been labelled "state aid". In the coming months, the EU will recalculate IRE's contributions to the EU, taking into account the additional 13bn euro's and present IRE with a revised membership contribution. Additionally, other member states may receive rebates because of this. Unfortunately, I suspect the size of such rebates are likely to only change the circa £350m a day net the UK are contributing to £349m per day...

  49. Bob Dole (tm)

    Re: re: tax deals

    @Pseu Donyme: >>There should be none, really.

    On the surface that sounds like a great way to level the field. Have all countries agree to a single corporate tax rate and presto no more issues.

    The problem, however, is that there are a lot of different reasons for companies to put offices in various countries/states/cities. Availability of a particular talent, price of office space, etc. Often a country can't control those items effectively in order to encourage large companies to move in. So they fiddle with the bits they can control to make their bit of the earth more attractive. Tax is one of those things governments can directly, and immediately, control.

  50. Bob Dole (tm)

    Re: I don't get it.

    >>In the end, they could have known this was morally wrong

    What do morals have to do with running a company? It's the responsibility of the governments to create (and follow) laws that engender the conduct they wish to see. In this case, not only did Ireland fail, but so has the EU by creating the very environment that allows this to be possible.

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