Cheerful Apple Inc has a secret hidey-hole for its mountainous piles of money – sorry, HAD a secret hidey-hole, the formerly clandestine beans have now been spilt all over the world’s frontpages.
The mega-rich firm, which has a long and interesting relationship with tax, has been outed by the recent Paradise Papers leak – a shower of millions of documents that have revealed how the very wealthy furtively secrete their cash out of the gaze of prying eyes.
After a 2013 clampdown on its whiffy tax situation in Ireland, Apple searched for a new tax haven, the papers show, finally settling on Jersey, where it currently stashes $252 billion.
Before Jersey came to its salvation, the company had a good thing going in Ireland, using a tax loophole known as the ‘double Irish’, which, sadly, wasn’t a nice a drink but a pretty despicable example of wanton corporate greed.
Thusly, rather than paying the American corporate tax rate of 35% or the Irish one of 12.5%, canny Apple managed to pare its payments down to around 5% and below. In fact, according to the European Commission, the insatiable firm paid an astonishing 0.0005% tax for one of its Irish companies! You’ve almost got to take your hat off to that.
Anyway, after it all started going wrong in Ireland, Apple turned to offshore finance law firm, Appleby – which, as luck would have it, is the outfit that has provided a great deal of the material in the leak.
In a questionnaire to Appleby, Apple made embarrassing enquires about things like where it could ‘obtain an official assurance of tax exemption’. Emails revealed in the leak show that the firm was desperate to keep all of the shenanigans secret, understandably.
Check out this extract from an internal email at Appleby: ‘For those of you who are not aware, Apple are extremely sensitive concerning publicity. They also expect the work that is being done for them only to be discussed amongst personnel who need to know.’
After shopping about a bit, Apple plumped for Jersey and its delightful 0% corporate tax rate for foreign firms.
Comes to something, doesn’t it?
So, next time you’re in a shop somewhere or browsing online, looking at Apple’s latest £1,000 electric telephone or £1,800 laptop, spare a quick thought for the schools your children go to, the health services we all need, social care for the elderly, the fire service, the police, etc, etc, and consider if it might perhaps be prudent not to have dealings with a firm that gleefully avoids contributing back into the societies that have made it so rich.