perpetuating the myth that Mark Thomas is "Funny" or a "Comedian"
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" …
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
"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.
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)
"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.
"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.
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?
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?
"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.
"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.
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.
"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.
After all, the money a company makes eventually gets distributed, either into dividends or salaries of the employees or by purchasing components etc. Each time it gets distributed, it get taxed.
What the governments want is for money to be taxed at every conceivable point - when a person ears it, when they spend it, (crafty one this, as tax ends up being paid twice in the same transaction - sales tax on the price of the item and corporation tax on the profit the company make by selling the item), and back to the beginning when the company pays their employee.
The questions that the sheep protesters about corporate tax 'immorality' keep forgetting to ask are:
Why do governments need all this extra money?
Why are normal people paying so much income, VAT, and other deceptive taxes?
Why do there even need to be so many taxes, especially cruel wage taxes?
Mostly governments are Ponzi corporatist mockeries of sound financing, thats why.
ALL organisations, no exceptions, should average minimal or zero debt, not keep piling it so high they have no hope of /ever/ paying it all off and leave toxic Ponzi debt for future generations!
As for the excuse that this will crash the economy, nonsense; just close all central banks, and have a debt free currency which has real value, not fiat lies, i.e. the definition of proper Money. A nice side effect of this will be no more insane Booms, taxing inflation, and cruel Busts, only minor deserved upsets and greater overall wealth, with a fairer share across the wage scale.
The questions that the sheep protesters about corporate tax 'immorality' keep forgetting to ask are:
I think you are missing the point. To most, the rights and wrongs of the existence of corporation tax is, I suggest, irrelevant. What is relevant to them is adherence to the rules.
I would guess that most people's complaint is more along the lines of "I go by the rules, I pay the tax I'm told to, I don't get given the option to negotiate how much tax I pay. If I have to do that, then so should everyone else"
If the rules are wrong, certainly challenge the rules - but joe public doesn't see these corporates as challenging the rules, it just sees them as breaking the rules. That difference makes the difference. That is what people complain about.
"What the governments want is for money to be taxed at every conceivable point "
Of course, they want to hide how much you're paying. UK tax receipts are about £590bn, and there's about 29.7m people in employment. That's about £19.85k of tax raised per average employee (because companies are merely an organisation form - they don't "own" anything, merely hold it for their shareholders). It's the employees efforts that generate the income that might be taxed through the company, so that "per person" figure has some validity.
Compared to the tax some people round here probably pay, that might seem inconsequential, but when you think that the average wage (annualised) is only about £24k, it implies that the average tax take is really approaching 50% of your productive output. Working at it another way, government spending as a proportion of GDP is about 40%, although that excludes cheating like PFI, and government mandated costs in the private sector (such as energy policy costs incurred on your fuel bills, VAT & PAYE collection costs, or legislative compliance costs), which I'd wager add about 5% to what government is spending as a proportion of GDP.
By doing it this way, government successfully persaude the masses that only the rich pay 50% taxes. In reality most of us aren't far off, and even people below the income tax threshold are significant net contributers.
"Of course, they want to hide how much you're paying. UK tax receipts are about £590bn, and there's about 29.7m people in employment"
And this is a time of historically low employment. If more people had jobs the cost would be the same or lower and spread between more people. The reason for high unemployment is not, as the Government would have us believe, laziness on the part of the workers (clue: even Governments own figures show far less jobs than workers) but laziness on the part of the Government. It's easier to let the stock market lecture them about 'on paper' profits that vanish into thin air when called upon than get involved with people and businesses that actually make things and provide services.
BTW the biggest single government expense is the pension bill. A cost that has been 50 years in the making. Every chancellor since the war has chosen not to cover the cost of future pensions because it might put voters off, hoping that someone would find a way to square the circle sometime later. All political parties have been playing the 'Live now pay later' game while telling everybody else not to.
It is important to point out that a person earning the average salary does not typically pay an average amount of income tax.
Your comparison is completely meaningless.
Especially as you seem to have brought company profits into your calculation of personal "income tax", which is loopy.
"After all, the money a company makes eventually gets distributed, either into dividends or salaries of the employees or by purchasing components etc. Each time it gets distributed, it get taxed."
Er no, that's why Apple has billions of dollars in the bank....it hasn't been distributed at all.
First, all the money is not eventually distributed, next taxation is not the the same for a shareholder or an employee. In the first case, if your fiscal adviser is smart enough, you could even be able to pay a smaller tax ratio on your dividends than the employee with the smaller salary of the company. That's what fundations in Lichtenstein are made for, for instance.
But who cares for fiscal justice anyway? Riches get richer, poors get poorer, it's the rule of our time.
You're forgetting that local subsidiaries pay tax on net income - and that ends up surprisinly low when royalties to the parent company in an overseas tax haven are taken out. Unsurpringly these royalties are periodically tweaked to ensure net income STAYS low.
Yes, Apple's paid some tax in the originating countries (sales taxes, VAT, etc are paid by the end user so that doesn't count), but not nearly as much as they would if they used a shareholder model for the subsidiaries.
That's what rankles with tax authorities worldwide, but this unholy ms was setup by governments to allow "big business" contacts to pay low taxes and as knowledge reaches the man on the street it's starting to come back and bite 'em.
They will squander, waste and overspend it.
'Austerity measures' come from letting the banking system run wild and a lack of responsibility to those at the top playing derivative games with your pension money.
If you don't have it in the bank, stop spending it. That works for most of the people who voted them into office.
Next stop Scotland then?
Confused - is this a dig at Scotland, or in reference to that counties disproportionately high annual contribution of tax revenue due to oil production compared with per-capita public spending? In short, Scotland puts in way more than it takes out.
"I suppose I'm a libertarian anarchist. I believe that so long as anyone's in power, there will be someone who isn't, which will lead to conflict and people being ripped off, exploited, blah blah blah blah blah. I know that's incredibly simplistic, but it's a fact."
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