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

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Comments

  • Reply 141 of 159
    gregordgregord Posts: 36member
    There are many things that some claim could not be so without a state. That is only because most humans have very poor imaginations.
  • Reply 142 of 159
    jungmarkjungmark Posts: 6,889member
    luykx wrote: »
    . 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.
  • Reply 143 of 159
    luykxluykx Posts: 20member
    jungmark wrote: »
    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.
  • Reply 144 of 159
    mj1970mj1970 Posts: 9,002member

    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.

  • Reply 145 of 159
    luykxluykx Posts: 20member
    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.
  • Reply 146 of 159
    jungmarkjungmark Posts: 6,889member
    @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.
  • Reply 147 of 159
    gregordgregord Posts: 36member


    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.

  • Reply 148 of 159
    tribalogicaltribalogical Posts: 1,182member

    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?!


     


     


     


    image 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?

  • Reply 149 of 159
    crowleycrowley Posts: 9,338member


    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).

  • Reply 150 of 159
    jungmarkjungmark Posts: 6,889member
    crowley wrote: »
    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.
  • Reply 151 of 159
    crowleycrowley Posts: 9,338member


    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).

  • Reply 152 of 159
    jungmarkjungmark Posts: 6,889member
    @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.
  • Reply 153 of 159
    crowleycrowley Posts: 9,338member


    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.

  • Reply 154 of 159


    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.

  • Reply 155 of 159
    kdarlingkdarling Posts: 1,640member

    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."

  • Reply 156 of 159
    buzdotsbuzdots Posts: 451member
    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
  • Reply 157 of 159
    msimpsonmsimpson Posts: 452member
    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.
  • Reply 158 of 159
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    kdarling wrote: »
    It apparently didn't work that way the last time there was a tax holiday for major corporations.

    "<span style="color:rgb(51,51,51);font-family:arial, sans-serif;font-size:14.44444465637207px;line-height:20px;">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</span>
    <a href="http://www.treasury.gov/connect/blog/Pages/Just-the-Facts-The-Costs-of-a-Repatriation-Tax-Holiday.aspx" style="font-family:arial, sans-serif;font-size:14.44444465637207px;line-height:20px;padding:0px;margin:0px;border-collapse:collapse;color:rgb(0,86,137);" target="_blank">Treasury official Michael Mundaca</a>
    <span style="color:rgb(51,51,51);font-family:arial, sans-serif;font-size:14.44444465637207px;line-height:20px;">:</span>


    <blockquote style="margin-right:40px;margin-bottom:10px;margin-left:40px;border-collapse:collapse;color:rgb(102,102,102);font-family:arial, sans-serif;font-size:14.44444465637207px;line-height:20px;">
    <p style="margin-bottom:13px;border-collapse:collapse;">"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."</p>

    </blockquote>

    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.
  • Reply 159 of 159
    luykxluykx Posts: 20member
    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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