back to article Apple agrees to pay £136m in back idiot taxes to UK taxman

Apple has agreed to cough up £136m in back taxes to HMRC following an "extensive audit" by the tax man. In its Company's House filing for the year ended April 2017, Apple Europe said: "Following an extensive audit by HMRC the company has agreed to pay the adjustment covering prior years up to September 26 2015. This payment of …

  1. macjules Silver badge

    Let me guess ..

    The 'extensive' HMRC audit cost UK taxpayers £138m to carry out.

    For 2015/2016 accounts year I owe HMRC around £18,000 in corporation taxes. I shall now follow the Apple example and send them £180

    1. smot

      Re: Let me guess ..

      Well it'll buy a few yards of HS2 track.

      1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

        Re: Let me guess ..

        £180 quid will buy about six inches of HS2 track. {rough guestimate}

        1. Anonymous Blowhard

          Re: Let me guess ..

          Based on this article (total length = 530km and estimated cost of £56 billion), £180 buys 1.7mm of track...

          1. Bill M

            Only £20,000

            At £180 / 1.7mm that would value my willy at about £20,000. I'd want a lot more than that before I agreed to part with it.

            1. Natalie Gritpants

              Re: Only £20,000

              How much to run a train over it?

            2. The Nazz Silver badge

              Re: Willy and Only £20,000

              On his auguration, Trump decided to make a populist gesture. He'd require a volunteer from each branch of the armed forces and give them a financial reward.

              First guy, an airman.

              Trump : Now then we.re gonna measure you and for every inch you'll get $1000. How'd you like to be measured?"

              "I'm a tall guy, Sir, so if you don't mind i'd like my height to be measured"

              Out with the tape measure, hmmm 6'8", "Give the guy $80,000.

              Second guy, a big burly sailor.

              "If you don't mind, Sir, i'd like to be measured around my chest"

              Tape measure out, 68". "Give the guy $68,000"

              Third guy, an old scrawny guy from the Bronx ex infantry.

              Says to the guy, "now don't forget, we're gonna measure you and it#s $1000 per inch". Trump chuckles and turns to his aides, and says "Hey guys, we're quids in here, this ain't gonna cost much."

              "Well, Sir, i'm not so tall nor broad so if you don't mind i'd like to be measured from the tip of my dick to the bottom of my balls"

              Tape comes a out and after a bit of fumbling the measuring guy says "hey i can't find your balls."

              "That's right" says the little guy, "they got shot off in Afghanistan, now start measuring"

              Sorry!

            3. Fury556

              Re: Only £20,000

              Do you get a lot of "passengers"?

          2. Roland6 Silver badge

            Re: Let me guess ..

            Based on this article Revealed: HS2 'abysmal value for money' at 10 times the cost of high-speed rail in Europe, £180 buys 2.29mm of track - but that is at autumn 2016 prices...

            1. PhilipN Silver badge

              Rule of thumb for Government projects

              Double the final "budget" and double the "expected" time frame.

              Disturbingly accurate (give or take) - except for those projects which eventually have to be cancelled.

            2. Roland6 Silver badge
              Boffin

              Re: Let me guess ..

              To put the numbers (ie. £180 and 2.29mm) into (a) context...

              My researches indicate the new polymer £5 and £10 notes are 87.5 microns thick..

              (can someone with a micrometer confirm this?)

              So convert your £180 into 10 x £10 notes and 16 x £5 notes and make one stack out of them and the pile will be 2.275mm high...

        2. smot

          Re: Let me guess ..

          I meant £136m not £180.....

    2. Bill M

      Re: Let me guess ..

      Only send them £180 if you receive a £360 cash subsidy for your business in advance.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Let me guess ..

      Just a point to note for anyone that whinges about paying tax - you don't get poor by paying tax. It's actually the other way around. If you earned it and made a profit, you pay tax. The fact that you're able to generate tax revenue is a good thing - it means you've clearly got cash in your pocket. If, on the other hand, you went out and spent what isn't yours then get ready for the rubber glove treatment.

      ... so someone with an £18,000 corporation tax bill is clearly doing very nicely for themselves. There's plenty of people out there that would love an £18,000 tax bill.

      1. JimboSmith Silver badge

        Re: Let me guess ..

        My ex employer has never made a taxable profit because they are paying a large amount in interest to a company in the Channel Islands*. I think it's something like 15% interest (on a multi multi million pound loan) which is to my mind a bit excessive. They did also have a UK loan at a lower rate but they paid that one back very quickly - wonder why?!? They make Apple look quite good and no I'm not going to name them as I suspect they have better lawyers than me.

        *I don't think it stays there though.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Let me guess ..

          Not sure about the UK, but most tax jurisdictions have rules that prevent that sort of profit diversion - thin capitalization rules and rules around applicable interest rates on inter-0company rules. That rate may be fine if a normal bank loan would have cost about the same, but would be disallowed if such were available at, say, 7%.

          Worth noting too that Apple's extra tax bill relates to transfer pricing; Apple was charging a certain amount for services rendered by the UK subsidiary and the rate charge was deemed to be below what would be charged by a third party and adjusted accordingly leading to the UK arm making a higher profit. These sort of disputes are very common and subject to continuing negotiation. All such inter-company deals that go outside one tax jurisdiction are supposed to take place at a rate equivalent to an arm's length third party transaction - and actually calculating that rate is subject to interpretation.

          I'd also note that it is almost certain that the extra tax paid in the UK means less tax paid elsewhere - but you won't here that tax authority owning up to less tax being collected.

  2. zaax

    Up Nurses pay, narth it will go to bankers

  3. Unep Eurobats
    Coat

    That duck advert did the trick then

    Quack.

  4. Am I Consing Yet?

    "...the company has agreed..."

    Is this like I agree not to murder people, or agree not to take your car without asking...?

    The language around this stuff is all wrong.

    It should read "We received this tax bill. Our accountants checked it and found it to be accurate. We paid it."

    Likewise, there should never be talk of a "settlement". That implies both parties have had to reach a compromise. That's all wrong.

    Believe me, I know from good experience that UK tax legislation is vague, and intentionally so. Accountants have no interest in that ever changing, and they are the people consulted whenever government thinks of changing anything around tax. But, a tax demand is a tax demand, not an invitation to negotiate. At least, that's how it should be.

    1. Paul

      Re: "...the company has agreed..."

      is it any wonder that people leave HMRC to set up their own accountancy? I'm sure their brighter staff study the tax rules for loop holes and then go and start a consultancy/accounting business specifically to sell their services to rich people who need such things.

      one day I hope to be rich enough that it's cheaper to employ an accountant than do my own tax return, so that said accountant will be able to save her or his own fees in tax savings ;-)

      1. JohnMurray

        Re: "...the company has agreed..."

        But...HMRC is run by the BIG 4 accountancy companies!!

        http://www.taxresearch.org.uk/Blog/2013/04/26/hmrc-and-the-big-4-the-bigger-the-gap-between-them-the-better/

    2. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

      Re: "...the company has agreed..."

      I think what they mean is that they are going to accept the figure rather than dispute or challenge it which seems fair enough. It is after all only right that people should be able to dispute amounts asked of them and how that was arrived at.

      I would say that all tax demands are an invitation to negotiate. It's just that for most people there's little to dispute or challenge.

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Re: "...the company has agreed..."

        Paying taxes is always a negotiation because you prepare your own taxes. You pay what the forms you or your CPA prepared say you owe, and the tax authority may or may not question your preparation. If they do, you can defend all/part/none of your calculations, implicitly accepting theirs where you choose not to defend.

        If they disagree with your defense of your preparation then you have to prove it to them (at least in the US - since the IRS are considered experts if you can't prove to them you're right, then by default they're right) and in the end you mutually on an amount and settle up.

        If you ever receive a big bill that you owe more in taxes, and just pay it without question (unless you knew you were trying to get away with something and they caught you) then you're stupid. It is worth fighting if you and your CPA believe you're in the right, I know this from personal experience.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "...the company has agreed..."

      Transfer pricing isn't easily subject to hard and fast rules. There is a general rule that the rate should be the same as if the transaction was between unrelated third parties, fine, that's the easy part.

      For some transactions it may be easy to define what that rate actually is, for others, not so simple. And it is a tax transfer between jurisdictions, not additional tax although if the rates in different areas vary significantly there may indeed by extra tax to pay.

      So the rules aren't vague for some conspiracy reason, but more because defining the correct rate for EVERY transaction is probably impossible and negotiation is the only reasonable approach.

  5. Ian 56

    Tautology is a tautology

    Tautology: noun. A statement that is true by necessity or by virtue of its logical form.

    For example:

    "Multinational companies must pay all taxes due and we don’t settle for less"

    "What's that? Who decides what taxes are *due*? Why, we do of course. Thanks for asking."

  6. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

    largest taxpayer in the world

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

    1. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: largest taxpayer in the world

      Well, they do pay (some) tax.

      And they are very fat cats.

      Whether they are the fattest fat cats in the world is a different question...

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Re: largest taxpayer in the world

        They pay billions in taxes in the US - they are most definitely the largest taxpayer in the US. They have been claiming to be the largest taxpayer in the world for several years now, and no one has ever pointed to an example of a company that pays more.

        So instead of laughing, put up or shut up - who pays more in taxes than Apple?

        1. rmullen0

          Re: largest taxpayer in the world

          You are missing the point they are NOT PAYING THEIR FAIR SHARE IN TAXES. On the contrary, they are doing everything they can to not pay their fair share. That is why they have their money overseas. Time to hit these morons with a 90% tax if they want to repatriate the money. But no, we have a criminal piece of garbage running our country. He will do the opposite. Boycott Apple. They have proven to be untrustworthy. Look what they did slowing everyone's phones down. Then they dodge taxes. They have unethical business practices.

          1. DougS Silver badge

            Re: largest taxpayer in the world

            Thousands of US companies have been leaving money overseas to avoid (technically delay since the tax was owed but not due until the money came back to the US) paying tax in the US on foreign earnings, which was perfectly legal to do. I assume you want the same 90% rate for Google, Microsoft, Facebook, GE, Gilead and all the other companies with tens or hundreds of billions parked overseas just like Apple?

            The new tax law has a 0% rate for overseas income earned after Jan. 1 this year, which sounds like a giveaway until you realize that just makes the US corporate tax system work like that of every other country in the world.

            1. rmullen0

              Re: largest taxpayer in the world

              Stop watching Fox News and stop drinking the corporate Cool Aid. Who do you think is going to pay the taxes to run the government? YOU ARE. They are shifting the tax burden to YOU and ME. You just wait an see. Your taxes are going up buddy. And guess what. They are coming after your Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid next. You just wait and see. The 1% are looting the country on the way out. They are the ones that are getting 80% of the tax breaks. This is BLATANT THEFT. And everyone one of the corrupt bought politicians that voted for this need to be CANNED come next election. BOYCOTT APPLE and any other company with corrupt business practices like this.

              1. Ian Joyner

                Re: largest taxpayer in the world

                While I agree corporations must pay their taxes...

                "BOYCOTT APPLE and any other company with corrupt business practices like this."

                It is not a corrupt practice because it is allowed by law.

                You will also need to boycott all the tech companies and other companies. They are all doing it.

                1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

                  Re: It is not a corrupt practice because it is allowed by law.

                  Not legally corrupt, but possibly ethically/morally corrupt. Just because something is law, doesn't make it right.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: largest taxpayer in the world

            Apple doesn't actually pay any tax in reality - some combination of their owners, staff, and customers do. So take your "fair share" bullshit and put it where it belongs - where the sun don't shine.

            1. DougS Silver badge

              Re: largest taxpayer in the world

              The "corporations don't really pay any tax" argument is stupid. You could just as easily argue that you don't really pay any federal income tax either, since it is paid by your employer on your behalf and most taxpayers get a refund in the spring and not a tax bill.

            2. rmullen0

              Re: largest taxpayer in the world

              Grow some balls AC. AC is just a 1%er SHIFTING HIS TAX BURDEN ONTO YOU. That is why they are defending a corporation with CORRUPT BUSINESS PRACTICES AND NO ETHICS. Either that or they are just an Apple fan boy who blindly follow them just like all the brainless Trumptards follow Trump. Keep sucking in the Fox News propaganda. Eventually there will be a revolution. Everyday common people aren't going to accept this forever. Trump chopped taxes for the corporations almost in half. GET READY FOR YOUR TAXES TO GO UP.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Job lined up

    Someone at HMRC will have a nice little position for themselves on quitting the public sector.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Job lined up

      Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), having a public sector appointment on your CV is unlikely to help you to transition to a private sector role. Your skillset has to be seriously in demand to make it happen. So much bad publicity around numerous high-profile public sector projects has seen to that. Lets say your company wants to start planning a new desktop rollout, which is something that happens (almost) everywhere all the time. Anyone fancy employing a senior NHS IT manager with a history of managing desktop rollouts? No, I thought not.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Job lined up

        You obviously have not paid attention to appointments c/o the MoD, HMRC and others....

  8. Shaha Alam

    can't we just sell the country to Apple? they can afford it cant they?

    and people are already paying an apple tax, so why not?

    I for one welcome our... etc.

  9. This post has been deleted by its author

  10. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    The conversation in full...

    HMRC: would you pay some tax?

    Apple: P*ss off.

    HMRC: ...oh... well that's not very nice. Our Theresa was even going to buy an iMac... Please pay a bit... Even Vodafone coughed up a tiny amount.

    Apple: Oh, ok, ok... stop crying! As a one-off gesture of goodwill, you can have whatever's in Tim Cook's wallet.

    HMRC: ...wicked cool...!

    £136m changes hands. Everybody happy!

  11. Lee D Silver badge

    What we should do:

    Make any company that pays less than 10% (or whatever) of its revenue as tax affix a mandatory sticker to every product they sell saying just that.

    "Designed by Apple.

    THIS PRODUCT WAS PRODUCED BY A COMPANY WHICH PAID LESS THAN 10% TAX LAST YEAR".

    1. Jon 37

      For all physical products sold the UK, the taxman gets 20% of the price as VAT. That's more than your 10%, so done.

      Also, for all companies employing people in the UK, the company pays the taxman money for payroll taxes (employer's NIC, "employees" NIC, income tax) for all their UK employees.

      The concern here is taxes on _profits_, and multinational companies can change where their profits happen to benefit from lower taxes. If Apple employees in California design a new iPhone, it's built in China, imported via a port in Holland, it uses online services from servers in Ireland, it's marketed by a marketing team in France, and it's sold by a sales team in Germany to a shop in the UK that in turn sells the phone to a customer in the UK, all the above funded by stocks and bonds issued in the USA, then where should the profit be recognized? Do you allocate some of the profit to each of those countries? Heck, how do you even figure out the profit - e.g. how much of the design & marketing cost gets figured against each sale, etc. The answer at the moment is that lawyers and lobbyists and politicians get involved, and the corporation can fudge things however it wants.

      In my opinion, corporation tax should be abolished, you can just set VAT and payroll taxes to fair tax rates and be done with it, and everyone pays the same percent of turnover. That's not possible to fudge.

      1. jantill

        VAT payment

        For all physical products sold the UK, the taxman actually gets 20/120ths i.e. 16.7% of the price as VAT. So it is indeed more than your 10%,

      2. JohnMurray

        VAT and payroll taxes are paid by consumers and employees.......

        But good idea...we'll set VAT on apple products at 100%....

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          All taxes are paid by consumers, employees, and owners in some combination.

          But sheer greed and stupidity prevents some people from seeing that...

      3. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        "In my opinion, corporation tax should be abolished, you can just set VAT and payroll taxes to fair tax rates and be done with it, and everyone pays the same percent of turnover. That's not possible to fudge."

        Until you find a company that pays staff almost nothing but which conveniently provides huge pensions and all-expenses-paid staff accomodation. You can fudge anything and those earning the most will always be able to spend more time/cash on fudging.

        I will accept, however, that my example would be pretty blatant. In fact, almost any simplification of the tax code will make it (slightly) harder to fudge things. You could, for example, scrap several thousand "tax breaks" that have been introduced at a rate of several per year (because they are eye-catching and politicians like that) since the dawn of time. This would hurt almost no-one except the accountants.

      4. frank 3

        VAT is a consumer tax. We pay it. The companies merely collect it on behalf of the taxman and pass it on to HMRC

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        >In my opinion, corporation tax should be abolished, you can just set VAT and payroll taxes to fair tax rates and be done with it, and everyone pays the same percent of turnover.

        But you forget: corporations are people too!

    2. Blotto

      @Lee

      Revenue isn’t profit. Companies currently pay tax on profit.

      If tax laws are changed to tax revenue companies can adjust their prices accordingly.

      In the UK people pay VAT when we buy most non essential products, also payable on insurance and utilities at reduced rates. That is like a tax on revenue in that every sale to an individual generates 20% at retail, less for insurance, utilities. Yes HMRC allow those collecting vat to keep some for themselves but still every consumer sale includes 20% tax.

    3. JimJimmyJimson

      I would buy that product. Its not like the government is using the money well.

  12. Tigra 07 Silver badge

    "Apple pays all that we owe according to tax laws and local customs in the countries where we operate"

    Then explain Ireland?

    1. Ledswinger Silver badge

      Then explain Ireland?

      It's there, in your post.

      It's a local custom for globotaxdodgers not to pay tax in Ireland, by virtue of the fact that Irish officials accept the claim that the economic activity takes place in some parallel universe outside all recognised countries of this Earth.

    2. JimboSmith Silver badge

      I was under the impression that Ireland had been told to stop giving Apple special treatment and Apple were going to have to pay billions in back taxes. Of course they'll be fighting this tooth and nail......

    3. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      "Then explain Ireland?"

      That's an example of a wider phenomenon whereby tax dodgers can break any *individual* law for a few years until the authorities catch up, whereupon they come to a "settlement" about previous years' mis-behaviour and have to find a new dodge in future. Since the authorities are always a few years behind the dodgers, the long-term effect is a rolling window of opportunity for the most "innovative" accountants.

  13. Ian Joyner

    Idiot?

    Why is the word 'idiot' in the headline? It does not occur in the article. You need to explain.

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