Numerous sources, including The Telegraph, are reporting that Apple’s Italian subsidiary has agreed to pay a €318 million fine for tax fraud.
A spokesman for Italy’s tax office confirmed that the tech company’s Italian subsidiary had agreed to pay the sum to end the investigation, with the amount paid in line with what the agency had asked for.
Citing the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, The Telegraph says:
Apple had been accused of tax evasion over five years, from 2008 to 2013, by booking sales in Italy through its Irish subsidiary.
The Telegraph also reminds readers of Tim Cook’s statement that Apple “every dollar and euro it owes in taxes.”
This is actually a pretty good deal for Apple. This settlement was negotiated based on estimates that Apple owed €880 million in corporation tax. So they still managed to swindle the country for more than half a billion euros.
“A U.S. Senate investigation in May revealed that Apple structured its operations so that the vast majority of its non-U.S. profits are reported in Ireland, by companies which, through an unusual feature of Irish tax law, are not tax resident in that country.
“ASI [Apple Sales International] contracts with mainly Chinese companies to manufacture iPads and iPhones. ASI then sells these products to another Irish company which resells them to retail subsidiaries in Italy and other European countries.
“The pricing of the inter-company transactions ensures that the lion’s share of the profit ends up with ASI, the Senate report said. Low profits in countries like Italy mean low tax payments there.
“Countries usually consider companies registered on their territory to be tax resident there but Irish law allows ASI to be tax resident nowhere. This means its profits go untaxed.”
This month, the Apple chief executive, Tim Cook, described accusations that the world’s richest company was sidestepping US taxes by stashing cash overseas as “political crap” and insisted: “We pay every tax dollar we owe.”
That may be true for dollars, but apparently it’s not the case for other currencies.
Italy may be the first of many EU companies that claim their due from Apple, who has long siphoned off sales through its Irish subsidiary, which benefits from an extremely beneficial tax regime. That tax deal is under investigation by the European Union.
Apple is, of course, far from being the only company to “avoid” taxes in this manner. Such large tech companies as Google and Facebook, as well as Amazon, use the same techniques. I hope they, too, pay their fair share.