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Apple's tax strategy portrayed by Senate subcommittee as a unique 'absurdity' - Page 4

post #121 of 158
Quote:
Originally Posted by gregord View Post

A personnel department is part of a larger firm. If the firm as a whole fails to make profit, it fails.

 

Exactly. And its productivity, while not measured in sales or profits directly, is measured by how well it takes care of and hires and handles the employees of the firm so it can make a profit. The claim pof un-productivity for that department was absurd.


Edited by MJ1970 - 5/21/13 at 2:26pm

The state is nothing more than a criminal gang writ large.

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The state is nothing more than a criminal gang writ large.

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post #122 of 158

Well it appears we dispatched Luykx with our unassailable logic and wit. If only Carl Levin read AI.

post #123 of 158

But doesn't that simile take you back to the earlier point?  If government is the personnel department (and other analogues) then the overall firm is the nation.  If the nation fails the government has failed.  There can be intra- and inter-department failures, resulting in reshuffles and restructures, but as long as the firms stays in the black (and doesn't revolt against the personnel department) then it's doing well enough.

 

Of course, USA Inc isn't in the black, so read into that what you will...

 

Governments aren't companies, it's a silly analogy.

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post #124 of 158
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crowley View Post

Governments aren't companies, it's a silly analogy.

 

We start and end there I think.

 

The closer analogy for a government is a criminal gang.

The state is nothing more than a criminal gang writ large.

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The state is nothing more than a criminal gang writ large.

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post #125 of 158
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crowley View Post

But doesn't that simile take you back to the earlier point?  If government is the personnel department (and other analogues) then the overall firm is the nation.  If the nation fails the government has failed.  There can be intra- and inter-department failures, resulting in reshuffles and restructures, but as long as the firms stays in the black (and doesn't revolt against the personnel department) then it's doing well enough.

 

Of course, USA Inc isn't in the black, so read into that what you will...

 

Governments aren't companies, it's a silly analogy.

 

I agree it is a silly analogy. It was Luykx that brought it up. I was extending his analogy to demonstrate its falsity.

post #126 of 158
Quote:
Originally Posted by MJ1970 View Post

We start and end there I think.

 

The closer analogy for a government is a criminal gang.

 

Now you're getting into unique absurdities.

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post #127 of 158
Quote:
Originally Posted by gregord View Post

 

I mean that Apple knows how to allocate its capital better than the government. More importantly, they have the right to the fruits (apples, of course) of their labor. Government is by its nature unproductive, it only exists by taking resources from productive members of society. If a company fails to produce goods and find customers it fails the most basic test of productivity (profit) and goes out of business. Government does not produce, and it continues to exist regardless of having customers and making a profit, therefore it is by definition unproductive. That you think government is the management of a firm called the U.S. makes me think you need to read some Hayek.

 

The rest of your reply is hard to decipher. Since you did not address my questions directly, I will not answer yours. You do appear to come to this discussion from the perspective of a statist. This is understandable, since you presumably reside in Europe. Being American, I approach things from a perspective of liberty.

Interesting post. Sorry for not addressing al questions. It's not that I'm using not enough words, I believe. Can't adress everything at once. Especially when people nitpick on each individual sentence. as mentioned, I'm sorry but I'm just not a native english speaker. and not canadian, either btw ;)

 

Why is the (un)productivity of government relevant? The only argument I've seen is that government is unproductive, and there shouldn't get any money. What kind of nonsense is that? That's just like saying government should not exist. You should try to read Montesquieu, perhaps. I'll try to go for Hayek. What would the business case of having a government look like? Well, for starters, the business case should be based on the comparison of a situation between having no government and having a government. I think the notion of how productive a government actually is, would be a different notion than the one you currently seem to hold.

 

Also, I hope you're not implying that a distinction between having a statist or libertarian (?) view implies one is better than the other (under all circumstances, at any point in time...etc). That's a pretty static view on what liberty would be, and I do believe pragmatism is as much of a fundamental part of the American society as liberty. Or that might just be my personal delusion. 

 

Sorry for the extra final post. It's getting late on this side of the pond, so I should be really going. (But it's such a friggin interesting discussion... :/)

post #128 of 158
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crowley View Post

Now you're getting into unique absurdities.

 

Am I? How so?

The state is nothing more than a criminal gang writ large.

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The state is nothing more than a criminal gang writ large.

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post #129 of 158

I think the broader political discussion should be left out of the thread.

 

Needless to say I don't agree with your opinion of government.  Doesn't mean we can't be friends though 1smile.gif

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post #130 of 158
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crowley View Post

 

 

Now you're getting into unique absurdities.

 

Not a unique absurdity, rather a repeated truth. It is on the bottom of his every post, if you cared to pay attention.

post #131 of 158

Good point.  A not-so-unique repeated absurdity then. 1smoking.gif

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post #132 of 158
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crowley View Post

I think the broader political discussion should be left out of the thread.

 

Fair enough. I suppose. Problem is that these issues are all interconnected.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Crowley View Post

Needless to say I don't agree with your opinion of government.

 

Understood. Many don't.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Crowley View Post

Doesn't mean we can't be friends though 1smile.gif

 

That all depends. Do you advocate using the government to steal from me and make me do (or not do) things I wouldn't (would) otherwise do?

The state is nothing more than a criminal gang writ large.

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The state is nothing more than a criminal gang writ large.

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post #133 of 158
Quote:
Originally Posted by gregord View Post

 

I agree it is a silly analogy. It was Luykx that brought it up. I was extending his analogy to demonstrate its falsity.

The whole point on the (un)productivity of government was brought into our discussion by you, btw. Ironical, isn't it? See post #98

 

Before that I can't see where I brought the government is a firm point, btw. I'd assumed the (un)productivity point to be about firms. That's my mistake perhaps. But you happily dug that hole with me by pointing towards Hayek, so I think it's a bit of an hypocrisy to start pointing fingers in my direction now others have argued it's just a ridiculous argument. Pretty weak as well, imo.

post #134 of 158

Depends what things you would or would not otherwise do, and why the government is impelled to force you to do or not them I suppose.

 

Though I tend not to advocate either way with regards the US government.  Not my business what your criminal gang does.

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post #135 of 158
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crowley View Post

Depends what things you would or would not otherwise do, and why the government is impelled to force you to do or not them I suppose.

 

Fair enough. Let's just say that if is anything beyond prevention of left, fraud, assault, murder, etc. Then you'd be overstepping the bounds of our "friendship."

The state is nothing more than a criminal gang writ large.

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The state is nothing more than a criminal gang writ large.

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post #136 of 158
I like the leeway granted in not straying beyond "etc", so on those terms I'll agree.

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post #137 of 158
Quote:
Originally Posted by Luykx View Post

The whole point on the (un)productivity of government was brought into our discussion by you, btw. Ironical, isn't it? See post #98

 

Before that I can't see where I brought the government is a firm point, btw. I'd assumed the (un)productivity point to be about firms. That's my mistake perhaps. But you happily dug that hole with me by pointing towards Hayek, so I think it's a bit of an hypocrisy to start pointing fingers in my direction now others have argued it's just a ridiculous argument. Pretty weak as well, imo.

 

The comment about the unproductivity of government was intended as a truism. You brought up the concept of government qua management. I interpreted Crowley's quibble to be about this. If you think this is pedantic, you might be right. I do not apologize for being misinterpreted.

post #138 of 158
Quote:
Originally Posted by gregord View Post

 

The comment about the unproductivity of government was intended as a truism. You brought up the concept of government qua management. I interpreted Crowley's quibble to be about this. If you think this is pedantic, you might be right. I do not apologize for being misinterpreted.

LOL

 

You got that right! And pedantic is pedantic in and of itself too. So the internal consistency is both waterproof and an understatement.

 

You deserve a star!

 

Also, truisms don't grant you freedom from their implications. As far as I'm concerned, whether or not the "government is productive" point is a truism, the idea is that talking about government in terms of productivity implies business-like, or rather, "being an (un)productive part of the economy"-like notion of what a government is or does.

 

The act of making a point like that implies some sort of equivalence between firms and governments, at some level. No matter how others might argue the analogy doesn't make any sense. The economy needs governments and laws as much as it needs firms, imo. Where else would Apple go to with their set of precious patents? To a certain extent the business model on making money on producing (patented) technology is built upon the existence of governments and the set of laws they produce (or should produce). Perhaps firms should invest in governments to produce better laws by paying taxes, instead of lobbying? (Of course, the counter argument would be "but every other firm lobbies"...as if that is a good excuse)

post #139 of 158
Quote:
Originally Posted by Luykx View Post

LOL

You got that right! And pedantic is pedantic in and of itself too. So the internal consistency is both waterproof and an understatement.

You deserve a star!

Also, truisms don't grant you freedom from their implications. As far as I'm concerned, whether or not the "government is productive" point is a truism, the idea is that talking about government in terms of productivity implies business-like, or rather, "being an (un)productive part of the economy"-like notion of what a government is or does.

The act of making a point like that implies some sort of equivalence between firms and governments, at some level. No matter how others might argue the analogy doesn't make any sense. The economy needs governments and laws as much as it needs firms, imo. Where else would Apple go to with their set of precious patents? To a certain extent the business model on making money on producing (patented) technology is built upon the existence of governments and the set of laws they produce (or should produce). Perhaps firms should invest in governments to produce better laws by paying taxes, instead of lobbying? (Of course, the counter argument would be "but every other firm lobbies"...as if that is a good excuse)

You write and comprehend English quite well. Which EU country are you from?
post #140 of 158
There are many things that some claim could not be so without a state. That is only because most humans have very poor imaginations.
post #141 of 158
Quote:
Originally Posted by Luykx View Post

. Perhaps firms should invest in governments to produce better laws by paying taxes, instead of lobbying? (Of course, the counter argument would be "but every other firm lobbies"...as if that is a good excuse)

Wouldn't that be bribes? The govt. should produce better laws without money. However they need money to run for congress.
post #142 of 158
Quote:
Originally Posted by jungmark View Post

Wouldn't that be bribes? The govt. should produce better laws without money. However they need money to run for congress.

What do you think this production of laws and executing/enforcing would cost? Is it a bribe to pay for such 'services'? Really? If I follow this logic, people who need phones for their business are being bribed by companies which produce them, because they need to pay for a service they're "entitled" to. That's absurd, right? Or are they entitled to everything which is provided by the government, and everything which comes from businesses is open to free market? Seems to me, the business of mobile phones/ network requires lots of regulations, or services from a government. I hope I'm not getting too philosophical for your tastes, but would iphones exist, if there was no government? Entitlement doesnt imply free services. Simple as that.

I'm not sure what Hayek would argue, but in a service based economy, one could argue the government - and or the metaphorical business it represents - takes care of some fundamental services needed for people and businesses to function. Throw that out of the window, and that business model based on patents is lost as well. Obvious, no?

Also consider the complexities of their services. Making laws is not the most easy/straightforward thing in the world, I'd argue. Might be even more complex than designing an iphone. Some brilliant mind could single handedly imagine a concept which leads to an iphone. In the context of laws, a brilliant mind imagining some concept? Perhaps, but the amount of parties, stakeholders, implications, risks and what not, far exceed those of a billion dollar company producing iphones worldwide. Think about it.

Fwiw, i'm in the business of a (privatized) health insurance agency in the netherlands. Meaning, i've got an awful lot of laws and regulations and connections to local and national government which are on my back. Just like a medical field (in my case specialized care, or contracting hospitals, with the focus on specialized medicines) and a pharmaceutical industry with their own worldwide playing field. This last being mostly on my desk, btw.
And the views some of you have on obamacare... Well, you think i might be misguided.. I can tell you .i dont know where to start as well. Talking about taking care of some bare necessities.
post #143 of 158
Quote:
Originally Posted by Luykx View Post

What do you think this production of laws and executing/enforcing would cost?

 

I would think substantially less than current levels of taxation and government spending. When you look at the budgets you realize only a very small amount goes to things like basic law enforcement and courts (and even building roads.) Most of it is the welfare/warfare aspects of the budget.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Luykx View Post

Seems to me, the business of mobile phones/ network requires lots of regulations, or services from a government.

 

Why?!

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Luykx View Post

I hope I'm not getting too philosophical for your tastes, but would iphones exist, if there was no government?

 

Of course. Why wouldn't they? This seems like a bizarre question.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Luykx View Post

Also consider the complexities of their services. Making laws is not the most easy/straightforward thing in the world, I'd argue. Might be even more complex than designing an iphone. Some brilliant mind could single handedly imagine a concept which leads to an iphone. In the context of laws, a brilliant mind imagining some concept? Perhaps, but the amount of parties, stakeholders, implications, risks and what not, far exceed those of a billion dollar company producing iphones worldwide. Think about it.

 

The complexity of law is exactly why it should not be in the hands of the state, and certainly not at the highest (federal/national) level because what occurs is two things: a) a one size fits all solutions that is almost certainly inappropriate in many cases, and/or b) regulatory capture in which the people/groups/industries that are being regulated actually write the legislation because the lawmakers (lawyers) don't know what the **** they're doing.

The state is nothing more than a criminal gang writ large.

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The state is nothing more than a criminal gang writ large.

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post #144 of 158
So a one size fits all within states is allowed, but not nation wide? What? So, nation wide, somehow by way of magic perhaps, all things start to go wrong which wouldn't within a state? Or is it about containing all these errors to the minimum? Why not restricting to substate levels? Isn't this arbitrary? And decided by whom? Surely not a nationwide democracy? Should the size of democracies be minimized as well?

And what about legislation within states which would have effects reaching beyond the borders of a state? Don't care? No need for some form of standardization of, i don't know, regulations/agreements about flying in the air across states and nations perhaps? You have heard of planes, right?

Regulatory capture is a real issue indeed. But not one which is restricted to the national level. I'd argue at this point it doesn't even matter whether legislation is nation or state wide for it to suffer from this. I might even argue the opposite, if it's nationwide, the odds are even higher things like this become transparent. Just because there are so much more conflicting interests involved.

The irony here is the more conflicts of interests, the better the legislation ( in potential). Kinda like a free market. The more options the better. So in a way, using free market logic, nation wide legislation is better because of the higher amount of conflicts of interests available. Interesting, isn't it?

From the perspective of a multinational it wouldn't even matter whether certain laws are only statewide, or nationwide. I mean, it's pretty obvious that at this point in time companies like Apple and Samsung use the world as some free market of regulations, where they can choose whether or not it's in their interest to sue each other. Or to choose whether or not some paper entity gets to carry all their profits, so they can "optimize" their taxes (which is just an euphemism for not paying them, of course). But that's just business as usual, right?

Sure. This is exactly what criminal organizations do: cover their tracks, and decide where they exist on paper. But somehow, this has become OK in the context of firms, because it's "legal" and some would argue necessary to create more jobs. As if.

It's about being smart with those cracks in the code. Kinda like a criminal. But legal. From a certain arbitrary point of view.
Edited by Luykx - 5/22/13 at 1:06am
post #145 of 158
@luykx tax payers can't dictate where taxes are spent. That's congress's job. In addition, these corps don't have the same goals necessarily. So for corps to get money to pay for laws they want without lobbying is sort of bribing officials directly.
post #146 of 158

MJ1970 was referring to the state in a general sense, as in the government, not a U.S. State such as New York. The clue here was the use of the definite article "the" to refer to "the state." If he meant a particular state, he would use the indefinite article "a." The rest of your points about federalism are therefore moot.

post #147 of 158
Quote:
Originally Posted by MJ1970 View Post

 

I don't even know what that means.

 

 

 

Well, it's true, laws are imperfect and have "loopholes." I don't see that as being relevant to what's going on here. But to your question, I think it depends on the law as to whether exploiting its holes and imperfections is okay.

 

 

 

You lost me.

 

 

 

What questions are those?

 

 

 

A valid argument for what?!

 

 

 

1confused.gif Are you suggesting there's no way to determine right and wrong? True and false?

 

Maybe there's an easy way to summarize and clarify everything Luykx said (it was kind of dancing around the point)... Try this:

 

Luykx thinks that Apple, although not breaking the law itself, is violating the SPIRIT of the law. Easy peasy.

 

 

Although, that sort of puts him in alignment with the excuse given for holding the hearings at all. "We don't know what's going on, but it seems like Apple is acting against the SPIRIT of the law which we think needs to change."

 

That's pretty much the other summary I got out of the hearings. 

 

Gosh, seems to me Congress could've just put out a statement and saved everyone a lot of time and money, "We think companies are violating the spirit of the tax laws, but we don't know how, and we intend to enact some kind of tax reform."

 

All this hearing did for me was reinforce my perspective that our Congress is broken, inept and incompetent. 

 

We pay them a ton of salary $ for being that way too. Disgusting.

 

After reforming tax laws, Senators, how about reforming Congressional pay using a "performance based" system? Hm?

post #148 of 158

But how do you enact reform without knowing what the loopholes are that you're trying to close?  Surely that's the point of the hearings, to draw that information out and paint a full picture of the ways that companies (not just Apple, other companies have gone too) are using unintended gaps in the system to improve their effective tax rate, in a way that is against the spirit of the tax law?

 

That's what I interpreted the purpose of the hearings as, though I may be wrong, am I'm sure political grandstanding may also have taken a bit of the thunder.  

 

We've been having similar things to these hearings in London recently with Google and Amazon testifying (neither were as well-prepared or clued up as Tim Cook and Peter Oppenheimer, interestingly).

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post #149 of 158
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crowley View Post

But how do you enact reform without knowing what the loopholes are that you're trying to close?  Surely that's the point of the hearings, to draw that information out and paint a full picture of the ways that companies (not just Apple, other companies have gone too) are using unintended gaps in the system to improve their effective tax rate, in a way that is against the spirit of the tax law?

That's what I interpreted the purpose of the hearings as, though I may be wrong, am I'm sure political grandstanding may also have taken a bit of the thunder.  

We've been having similar things to these hearings in London recently with Google and Amazon testifying (neither were as well-prepared or clued up as Tim Cook and Peter Oppenheimer, interestingly).

Easy, you hire lawyers. They always find loopholes or technicalities.
post #150 of 158

If they're talented maybe.  The talented ones tend to get gobbled up by the corporations though.  And there's always a risk that jobbing tax lawyers will help clean up policy, then go off and sell specialist knowledge about loopholes they didn't clean up (or new ones they added).  Better to have as much of it out in the open as you can really.

 

Plus, not all of the loopholes are in the US system for the lawyers to find, indeed the greater part of this whole charade has been in exposing problems outside the US.  The US probably can't directly do much about them, but there is the G8 coming up, so a joined up approach will almost certainly be discussed (and promptly forgotten about most likely).

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post #151 of 158
@crowley, there are many corp lawyers that work for law firms and not directly for corporations.

The US can't do much on a global level and even the G8 summit won't be able to change that. Ireland and Lux control their own tax system.
post #152 of 158

True, but I don't think it follows that there's nothing that can be done with it.

 

Good legal policy could possibly be phrased be to compel companies to accurately represent where economic activity takes place, for appropriate taxation in the appropriate place.  That might take the wind out of the Ireland arrangement, as it clearly isn't a centre for economic activity, it's just a pretense.  That kind of policy would be hard to enact unilaterally though, you'd need cooperation between nations for necessary investigation into suspected fraudulence.  But if the G8 can agree it or if the EU can agree it, or any significantly powerful bloc can agree it, then they might be able to push it through.  Ireland and Luxembourg are not independent enough that they can resist that kind of push.

 

Country-by-country tax reporting would be essential of course, with this direction, and probably with any other kind of direction.  That country-by-country reporting isn't already mandatory is pretty pitiful.

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post #153 of 158

The problem is with the rediculous tax law & politicians

The tax law makes it impossible for Apple to compete with companies such as Samsung. Apple is already taxed on their profits overseas and then the US asks that if those profits are brought back home that they pay an additional 35%. Samsung typically pays nothing close to this. If you dropped the ridiculously high tax then maybe that cash would be brought back state side and would possibly help our economy.

 

Apple is doing nothing illegal! Our politicians have just FAILED on cutting the budget and are now looking to blame others for their mess.

post #154 of 158
Quote:
Originally Posted by Irving Muller View Post

Apple is already taxed on their profits overseas and then the US asks that if those profits are brought back home that they pay an additional 35%.

 

 

Some of it was taxed overseas, some not. The Washington Post says:

 

"One of Apple’s Irish affiliates reported profits of $30 billion between 2009 and 2012, but because it did not technically belong to any country, it paid no taxes to any government. Another paid a tax rate of 0.05 percent in 2011 on $22 billion in earnings, according to the report."

 

Quote:
If you dropped the ridiculously high tax then maybe that cash would be brought back state side and would possibly help our economy.

 

It apparently didn't work that way the last time there was a tax holiday for major corporations.

 

"Companies had a tax holiday once before, in 2004, when a set of major corporations were allowed to bring back their overseas profits at a tax rate of only 5.25%. You might imagine that it resulted in an enormous economic boost, but here's what happened instead, in the words ofTreasury official Michael Mundaca:

 

"There is no evidence that it increased US investment or jobs, and it cost taxpayers billions … the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service reports that most of the largest beneficiaries of the holiday actually cut jobs in 2005-06 – despite overall economy-wide job growth in those years – and many used the repatriated funds simply to repurchase stock or pay dividends."

post #155 of 158
What a bunch of effn imbeciles. All stockholders of Apple had better be damn proud that "their" company used the means presented to them to increase value/profit.

Obviously the accountants and lawyers at Apple are a SH*TLOAD smarter than those paid by US taxpayers.

Levin and McCain should FTHO.
What the hell has happened to McCain lately? He has turned into a blithering idiot on multiple issues. I think the jungle heat has finally gotten to him...

#raveonfool
OMG here we go again...
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post #156 of 158
Apple's new campus that Steve Jobs helped designed is really a spaceship that Apple plans to use to search for intelligent life in the universe, because they can't find it in Washington, DC.
post #157 of 158
Quote:
Originally Posted by KDarling View Post

It apparently didn't work that way the last time there was a tax holiday for major corporations.

"Companies had a tax holiday once before, in 2004, when a set of major corporations were allowed to bring back their overseas profits at a tax rate of only 5.25%. You might imagine that it resulted in an enormous economic boost, but here's what happened instead, in the words of
Treasury official Michael Mundaca
:



"There is no evidence that it increased US investment or jobs, and it cost taxpayers billions … the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service reports that most of the largest beneficiaries of the holiday actually cut jobs in 2005-06 – despite overall economy-wide job growth in those years – and many used the repatriated funds simply to repurchase stock or pay dividends."





Whether it cost jobs is an open question. One would have to know how many jobs we'd have without the tax holiday compared to the number we actually had with the tax holiday. There's no way to know for sure - it's only someone's guess.

However, the second part (that it cost the US treasury billions of dollars) is almost certainly false. With 35% tax rates, it is likely that most companies would have done what Apple is doing - and left the money overseas. So there wouldn't have been any tax revenues without the holiday. The holiday CREATED tax revenues that would not otherwise have existed.
"I'm way over my head when it comes to technical issues like this"
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post #158 of 158
Quote:
Originally Posted by Irving Muller View Post

The tax law makes it impossible for Apple to compete with companies such as Samsung. Apple is already taxed on their profits overseas and then the US asks that if those profits are brought back home that they pay an additional 35%. Samsung typically pays nothing close to this. If you dropped the ridiculously high tax then maybe that cash would be brought back state side and would possibly help our economy.

Apple is doing nothing illegal! Our politicians have just FAILED on cutting the budget and are now looking to blame others for their mess.

I think the effects of tax laws on the competitiveness between samsung and apple are overrated.

For starters, samsung dominates the market of mobile phone parts. This alone creates the most important part of the unleveled playing field that i agree is present.
Second, given the current tax laws apple doesn't seem to have any problems whatsoever to make profits. Also notice the amount of money in apples pockets which is just sitting there, doing nothing. Is apple secretly thinking about going into the banking business? (Customers get a free iphone with their apple bankaccount.)

To blame uneven competition purely on tax-laws is just silly. Especially when so many factors are involved. If apple's management would seriously think the most important factor of samsungs success is better tax laws (which i dont think they do), apple needs a new management. Despite these unfavorable tax laws (only on paper though!) there's still a considerate amount of margin on apple products. Why would that be the case if it's near impossible to compete with samsung, one might wonder.
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