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Italian government levels tax fraud accusation at Apple, raids local HQ

post #1 of 84
Thread Starter 
Authorities have seized equipment from Apple's Italian headquarters in the course of an investigation into accusations that the company shielded more than ?1 billion in profits from Italy's tax authorities, according to a new report out of Milan.

Apple Via Roma store
Apple's Via Roma store in Torino, Italy


Apple's Italian operation is said to have underreported taxable income of ?206 million in 2010 and ?853 million in 2011. The accusations were first reported by Italian publication l'Espresso and later confirmed by Reuters, citing sources in the Italian judiciary system.

The complaint alleges that the income was booked to Apple's Irish holding company, but should have been reported to Italian tax authorities as income derived from activities in Italy. The investigation includes two unnamed middle managers from the Cupertino, Calif.-based company.

Apple has reportedly challenged the seizure order that followed a search of the company's headquarters in Milan, and Italian appeals courts will take up the question of its validity. A timeline for that action was not specified.

l'Espresso notes that this would mark the second Italian inquest into Apple's tax strategy in the country. The first is said to have been closed for lack of evidence.
post #2 of 84
Case "closed for lack of evidence" is a prosecutor's weaseling way of saying we accused an innocent party. Hopefully, that is the case again.

My impression of Italian prosecutors, based on a couple of recent cases receiving international attention is that they don't like tobloseconce they have decided some one is guilty. And, they will keep charging their target with crimes until the court's see it that way.
post #3 of 84
Well of course it's underreported; Apple always exceed their own guidance for the quarters ¡
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post #4 of 84
Italian Gov't has been crooked for years.. They've gotten a ton of flack from locals and focusing on high profile companies that are not local is much less of a political suicide.

"The investigation includes two unnamed middle managers from the Cupertino, Calif.-based company. " Convenient, we'll see how this plays out.. If we see names, or not..
post #5 of 84
Yes it's rubbish. Apple is headquartered in Ireland so it owes it's corporate taxes on wholesale profits there. It owes merely retail profits in Italy. And there is no way that retail profits would have been that much.

Italy's justice system is a joke.
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post #6 of 84

$1B is probably less than the entire inventory Apple sold in Italy which is a country known to be not very iOS friendly.

post #7 of 84

A storm in a cappuccino.

post #8 of 84

Just wait till you see how this story is plastered all over the tech blogosphere as undisputed fact. The shrieks  of joy from the usual suspects will be loud and long. 

post #9 of 84

Italy is probably owed some taxes. Since Apple is a US company and has a headquarters in Italy, what does Ireland have to do with any of this? Sounds fishy to me.

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post #10 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

Italy is probably owed some taxes. Since Apple is a US company and has a headquarters in Italy, what does Ireland have to do with any of this? Sounds fishy to me.

It's European headquarters are in Ireland.
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post #11 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post
 

Italy is probably owed some taxes. Since Apple is a US company and has a headquarters in Italy, what does Ireland have to do with any of this? Sounds fishy to me.

 

A little thing called the EU.

post #12 of 84
Note that Apple isn't being singled out. Google, who uses the same types of tax avoidance strategies, is also targeted by the Italian authorities. If one is found to be doing so improperly I'd imagine the other will too.
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post #13 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by cnocbui View Post

A storm in a cappuccino.

A Cupertino cappuccino storm?
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post #14 of 84
The US should respond by taxing farrarri not the profits it makes in the US but the total price of sales in its shops.
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post #15 of 84

Morning breaks. Join us, dear viewer, as we position our cameras near a large money pile. We won't have long to wait. Hark! Here's one now! Listen to the mating call of the red-throated politician bird...

 

"Gimme!! Gimme!! Gimme!!"

 

So lovely. Soooo lovely.

post #16 of 84

First it is Italy folks, it is not the cradle of business ethics that is for sure.

 

They went after apple about the warranty issue and now they are claim tax fraud, next it will be murder.....


Edited by Maestro64 - 11/14/13 at 9:41am
post #17 of 84
This is a good ol' fashioned shakedown. Who said the Italian Mafia is dead. What do we know about the Italian Gov't? They elect corrupt, pedophiles into the office of Prime Minister. They mismanage their finances so badly that they bankrupt the entire country. Why wouldn't they focus on the outsider. It takes far more integrity to point the guilty finger at oneself than an outsider. Especially, an outsider rich beyond their wildest dreams. It must go back to some sort of Roman entitlement that they're the true rulers of the planet because they once had an empire. Nothing there but a bunch of old crabby grandpas with a penchant for the younger life. They do make nice suits, though.
post #18 of 84
@adsdad: actually, the way companies can avoid paying taxes by hiding in tax havens, such as Ireland, is the real joke.
While I sadly agree with you Italy is probably doing this in a... let's say not-so-clearly-honest way, the fact three european countries now question the system's failures, not only for US-based Apple but also European oil companies and Telcos surely is a sign that it's not exclusively Apple-hate.

I also understand that stockholders have a vested interest in not "understanding" that taxes are important to the country profits are made in, but quite obviously, there is a reason why some companies, based in some countries, are so much richer than others. And no, it's not "think different" for oil and banks. It's not magical technological advantages. It might, however, be savvy tax avoidance, and even if that's legal (which is the matter here), the question of the validity of that legality is a very good one.

So, I guess, we'll see if Italy's complaint is valid, we'll see if the UE sets better rules (because Italy or France or the UK alone can hardly do anything, but the UE can discuss rules with the USA on more... equal footing), and we'll see what happens next.

I also notice that when the same countries and courts rule against Samsung, their rulings aren't as badly received here.

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post #19 of 84
What is up with Italy and France busting Apple's ass over nothing? 1oyvey.gif
post #20 of 84

Hopefully international corporations will learn that the benefits of hiding their income from the country that made it possible in the first place (i.e. U.S.) are outweighed by the truth of the old bromide "You lie down with dogs, you get fleas."

 

(And yes, I own AAPL.)

post #21 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by asdasd View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

Italy is probably owed some taxes. Since Apple is a US company and has a headquarters in Italy, what does Ireland have to do with any of this? Sounds fishy to me.

It's European headquarters are in Ireland.

Well actually that is where two separate companies owned by Apple are located. Apple Operations International and Apple Sales International neither of which is actually Apple. On Apple's website they list Apple Operations Europe as the headquarters, however, that entity operates as a subsidiary of Apple Operations International.

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post #22 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by asdasd View Post

The US should respond by taxing farrarri not the profits it makes in the US but the total price of sales in its shops.

One: it's "Ferrari".

Two: if you mean: "the total price of sales in US shops", it would make sense, apart from the same fact I outlined earlier that the rule is pretty broken right now, and that plays the same way for Ferrari. Besides, Ferrari and Chrysler both belong to Fiat, you know... hence it's far from obvious whether it would or not be wise to attack Ferrari for the US. I expect that Fiat might be forced to close plants in America, causing massive damage to the Republican voting base in the North. Would the Senate be very motivated by such an idea?

And if you think of Lamborghini, which belongs to German Volkswagen, the latter is listed also in the US stock exchange. That would annoy a lot of Americans too.

 By the way, Ferrari happens to be a partner with Apple's automation initiative: "Apple Senior Vicepresident Internet Software and Service Eddy Cue joined Ferrari's board of directors".

 

Wise idea you had, right?

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post #23 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by lightknight View Post

@adsdad: actually, the way companies can avoid paying taxes by hiding in tax havens, such as Ireland, is the real joke.
While I sadly agree with you Italy is probably doing this in a... let's say not-so-clearly-honest way, the fact three european countries now question the system's failures, not only for US-based Apple but also European oil companies and Telcos surely is a sign that it's not exclusively Apple-hate.

I also understand that stockholders have a vested interest in not "understanding" that taxes are important to the country profits are made in, but quite obviously, there is a reason why some companies, based in some countries, are so much richer than others. And no, it's not "think different" for oil and banks. It's not magical technological advantages. It might, however, be savvy tax avoidance, and even if that's legal (which is the matter here), the question of the validity of that legality is a very good one.

So, I guess, we'll see if Italy's complaint is valid, we'll see if the UE sets better rules (because Italy or France or the UK alone can hardly do anything, but the UE can discuss rules with the USA on more... equal footing), and we'll see what happens next.

I also notice that when the same countries and courts rule against Samsung, their rulings aren't as badly received here.

I haven't seen any rulings against samsung.

Look the problem here is that you don't understand tax law. Ireland is not a tax haven. Companies don't owe profits on the total retail sales in every country they sell in.

Apple in Cork either manufactures or imports an iPad. The taxes it should pay are the profits on the wholesale price it charges to retailers minus costs. Apple in Italy ( ie the stores) then owes the difference between the wholesale prices they are charged and the retail price they ask for minus costs. Just that.

Other retail sellers of iPads also owe the profit on the retail minus the wholesale price.

So Italy has no case.

Apple is avoiding Irish taxes though.
Edited by asdasd - 11/13/13 at 11:27am
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post #24 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacAir View Post
 

Well, it doesn't make sense. Someone just needs money and/or attention, it seems. However, I still can't understand how Apple gets away with 1 year guaranty when they are forced by law to give at least 2.

Not true: Apple's AppleCare is a much better deal than the two year warranty, but they do serve that if "reminded" of the law. 

 

And by experience, they sometimes behave much better than other big names of the computing industry. On my "Gold" list of good service: Freecom (germans), Dell (americans), Apple with AppleCare.

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post #25 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by lightknight View Post

One: it's "Ferrari".
Two: if you mean: "the total price of sales in US shops", it would make sense, apart from the same fact I outlined earlier that the rule is pretty broken right now, and that plays the same way for Ferrari. Besides, Ferrari and Chrysler both belong to Fiat, you know... hence it's far from obvious whether it would or not be wise to attack Ferrari for the US. I expect that Fiat might be forced to close plants in America, causing massive damage to the Republican voting base in the North. Would the Senate be very motivated by such an idea?
And if you think of Lamborghini, which belongs to German Volkswagen, the latter is listed also in the US stock exchange. That would annoy a lot of Americans too.
 By the way, Ferrari happens to be a partner with Apple's automation initiative: "Apple Senior Vicepresident Internet Software and Service Eddy Cue joined Ferrari's board of directors".

Wise idea you had, right?

I have no idea why you think that was a rebuttal. It's just a list of stuff...

My point is simple. Corporation tax is not paid on retail prices where a company is not located. Given the figures from the Italian police and what we know of Apples sales this is what the Italian police are claiming.

Best to just abandon countries like that.
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post #26 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by macaholic_1948 View Post

Case "closed for lack of evidence" is a prosecutor's weaseling way of saying we accused an innocent party. Hopefully, that is the case again.

My impression of Italian prosecutors, based on a couple of recent cases receiving international attention is that they don't like tobloseconce they have decided some one is guilty. And, they will keep charging their target with crimes until the court's see it that way.

 

Who or what is tobloseconce?

post #27 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by asdasd View Post


I haven't seen any rulings against samsung.

Look the problem here is that you don't understand tax law. Ireland is not a tax haven. Companies don't owe profits on the total retail sales in every country they sell in.

Apple in Cork either manufactures or imports an iPad. The taxes it should pay are the profits on the wholesale price to retail minus costs. Apple in Italy then owes the difference between the wholesale prices and the retail price minus costs. Just that. Other retail sellers of iPads also owe the profit on the retail minus the wholesale price.

So Italy has no case.

Apple is avoiding Irish taxes though.

I live in the Netherlands (check double dutch, if you don't get it). Ireland is a tax haven, like Swiss, Man, Luxembourg, the NL, Monaco.

Most of the economy of Ireland is based on the fact it is a tax haven.

As to "Italy has no case", well, why aren't you willing to wait for the court to decide that? Do you believe that courts aren't a good way to settle issues? Should, maybe, Tim Cook go in an arena and box with an Italian champion of the courts? 

Or maybe a duel to the death?

 

It would, I'll admit, be entertaining. However, we've invented civilization outside of East Texas. Courts actually do a good job (as good as they can, at least). I'd rather bet on the courts.

 

As for the Irish taxes, well, Apple could dodge most of these by setting up another company in the NL and another one in Man. But that would be kind of evil-googlish, right?

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post #28 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by asdasd View Post


I have no idea why you think that was a rebuttal. It's just a list of stuff...

My point is simple. Corporation tax is not paid on retail prices where a company is not located. Given the figures from the Italian police and what we know of Apples sales this is what the Italian police are claiming.

Best to just abandon countries like that.

Well, sorry for being acid. I just want to say that in our exceedingly connected economy, we can't just respond to court enquiries with random tax agression, with the risk of hurting our own economies, and even more that companies can't "abandon" countries such as France (one of the biggest Apple customers) or Italy (one of the big fashion-setters, with Milan's economy being much stronger than the South of Italy).

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post #29 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by DCJ001 View Post

Who or what is tobloseconce?
It's autocorrect's failure to indicate I hit a "b" and a "c" instead of the space bare (<— autocorrect's version of "bar").

If you read between the letters it's either a fancy chocolate delight or "to lose once".
post #30 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by macaholic_1948 View Post

My impression of Italian prosecutors, based on a couple of recent cases receiving international attention is that they don't like tobloseconce they have decided some one is guilty. And, they will keep charging their target with crimes until the court's see it that way.

 

Usually it is much simpler. They ask to demonstrate something just on the basis of some doubts.

 

In Italy we receive from "Tax Agency" (rough translation for our tax management authority) the order to demonstrate we have paid certain taxes, even if agency has all the informations. Last time it happened to me was some months ago: I have an hybrid car, since annual taxation for hybrid is someway special, so I decided to pay the tax directly at tax agency offices, but the next year I received order to demonstrate I paid that tax... I showed the paid tax to the same desk.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by asdasd View Post

The US should respond by taxing farrarri not the profits it makes in the US but the total price of sales in its shops.

 

Taxation in Italy is almost the higher of the world (only a few countries slightly more). For example, for an annual income of 28'000 euros (before taxes) we pay 38% of direct taxation. You have to add annual taxes for house, car, public television, waste collecting, a VAT of 22% on products and a few small other.

 

If Ferrari manages to being taxed outside Italy, it is a huge gain, so probably Ferrari already does it.

 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by samdoohickey View Post

This is a good ol' fashioned shakedown. Who said the Italian Mafia is dead. What do we know about the Italian Gov't? They elect corrupt, pedophiles into the office of Prime Minister. They mismanage their finances so badly that they bankrupt the entire country. Why wouldn't they focus on the outsider. It takes far more integrity to point the guilty finger at oneself than an outsider. Especially, an outsider rich beyond their wildest dreams. It must go back to some sort of Roman entitlement that they're the true rulers of the planet because they once had an empire. Nothing there but a bunch of old crabby grandpas with a penchant for the younger life. They do make nice suits, though.

 

There is no need to insult italians, more than 95% of us are nice people which hates what you quoted. You are right when you say that we badly mismanaged finances, we know it very well, but take into account that even if in such a dramatic and bad guidance, our economy is not small and overall life is good (food, health, environment, culture, art, touristic places). Italians have a lot of individual talent and survival instinct, but totally lack organization and discipline. Sorry for my english, we are bad also at it.

post #31 of 84

They all want a piece of the Apple Pie .... see what having a lot of cash does for them. It attracts everyone between Carl Icahn and the mafia .... and everyone in between.    :lol:

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post #32 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by asdasd View Post
 
 Ireland is not a tax haven.
[...}
Apple is avoiding Irish taxes though.

They are not avoiding Irish taxes. The way the Irish tax law is structured is that if the companies are owned by a foreign entity they are not required to pay the normal corporate rate but instead a very low 1-2% rate.

 

The way some people have described the tax avoidance is like this: Apple registers certain intellectual property and design patents to an Irish based company such as Apple Operations International, which they own, and then licenses them to the Italian company, which they own, for enormous fees. In turn the Italian company can write off the expense of the fees and sends the cost of that licensing to the Irish company. In this way the Italian company show almost no profit. And, since Ireland has such a friendly tax structure the Irish company owned by a foreign entity pays no taxes there either.

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post #33 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by lightknight View Post

I live in the Netherlands (check double dutch, if you don't get it). Ireland is a tax haven, like Swiss, Man, Luxembourg, the NL, Monaco.
Most of the economy of Ireland is based on the fact it is a tax haven.
As to "Italy has no case", well, why aren't you willing to wait for the court to decide that? Do you believe that courts aren't a good way to settle issues? Should, maybe, Tim Cook go in an arena and box with an Italian champion of the courts? 
Or maybe a duel to the death?

It would, I'll admit, be entertaining. However, we've invented civilization outside of East Texas. Courts actually do a good job (as good as they can, at least). I'd rather bet on the courts.

As for the Irish taxes, well, Apple could dodge most of these by setting up another company in the NL and another one in Man. But that would be kind of evil-googlish, right?

You still don't seem to understand where corporate tax should be paid. It isn't where goods are sold. And neither Ireland nor the Netherlands are tax havens. The companies there are abusing laws which were not set up for the purpose of avoidance. That's not a haven, it's tax avoidance by the companies.
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post #34 of 84
The crooked Italians are desperate for money. They are going bankrupt. They don't buy much apple products anyway and there no respect for the rule of law there. Apple should leave that country.
post #35 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

They are not avoiding Irish taxes. The way the Irish tax law is structured is that if the companies are owned by a foreign entity they are not required to pay the normal corporate rate but instead a very low 1-2% rate.

The way some people have described the tax avoidance is like this: Apple registers certain intellectual property and design patents to an Irish based company such as Apple Operations International, which they own, and then licenses them to the Italian company, which they own, for enormous fees. In turn the Italian company can write off the expense of the fees and sends the cost of that licensing to the Irish company. In this way the Italian company show almost no profit. And, since Ireland has such a friendly tax structure the Irish company owned by a foreign entity pays no taxes there either.

No you are confusing apple with Google or Amazon maybe. Possibly Starbucks. Apple doesn't licence any patents to Italian companies because all it does in Italy is sell stuff. You don't need to transfer IP to sell.

As for the 2% that's a matter of how the US and Ireland tax companies. The Irish tax 12.5% on sales if you are based and registered in Ireland. But only on Irish sales if you are based in the US, or outside the country but register in Ireland. The US taxes companies registered for tax and based there but doesn't tax companies based in the US but not registered there. One or the other should change but neither were set up to be a tax haven.
Edited by asdasd - 11/13/13 at 11:51am
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post #36 of 84

Italian gov't is one of the most corrupt out there. If I was Apple, I'd stop shipping product to Italy immediately and pull out as much as they reasonably can. Clearly Apple didn't buy off the right officials. That's how Italy does it. Let them have their Samsuck products. "No Apple (soup) for you!" :-)

post #37 of 84
Apple forgot to pay the standard bribes in Italy.
Just like Asia. The police needs its "tea money".
post #38 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by asdasd View Post
 
You don't need to transfer IP to sell.

Now you are starting to catch on...

 

None of these companies are actually Apple. 

 

Italian company: We want to sell iPhone in Italy.

 

Irish company: Well you know our intellectual property is not available for sale in Italy.

 

Italian company: Well can we license it?

 

Irish company: Sure no problem, wink, wink.

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post #39 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

Now you are starting to catch on...

None of these companies are actually Apple. 

Italian company: We want to sell iPhone in Italy.

Irish company: Well you know or intellectual property is not available for sale in Italy.

Italian company: Well can we license it?

Irish company: Sure no problem, wink, wink.

I am not "catching on". I refuted your accusation. I can't really explain it anymore remedially than I have already. Apple Italy is the Apple stores. They don't get transferred IP from Apple Ireland because that would be nonsensical. Why the fcuk do you think companies need to transfer IP to sell?

You've vaguely put together some English tabloid review of Starbucks tax system and think it applies every where. Starbucks claims that the coffees are "manufactured" in their stores so they can write off IP as a cost of manufacture. Vaguely understanding that you think it can apply to all sales. It doesn't.


EDIT: and there is no way apple licences IP to non Apple companies. That would be disastrous.
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post #40 of 84
This is just fodder for Android fan boy forums....hehe.
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