2017-11-06 — bbc.com
The world's most profitable firm has a secretive new structure that would enable it to continue avoiding billions in taxes, the Paradise Papers show.
They reveal how Apple sidestepped a 2013 crackdown on its controversial Irish tax practices by actively shopping around for a tax haven.
It then moved the firm holding most of its untaxed offshore cash, now $252bn, to the Channel Island of Jersey....
Up until 2014, the tech company had been exploiting a loophole in tax laws in the US and the Republic of Ireland known as the "double Irish".
This allowed Apple to funnel all its sales outside of the Americas - currently about 55% of its revenue - through Irish subsidiaries that were effectively stateless for taxation purposes, and so incurred hardly any tax.
Instead of paying Irish corporation tax of 12.5%, or the US rate of 35%, Apple's avoidance structure helped it reduce its tax rate on profits outside of the US to the extent that its foreign tax payments rarely amounted to more than 5% of its foreign profits, and in some years dipped below 2%.
The European Commission calculated the rate of tax for one of Apple's Irish companies for one year had been just 0.005%.
After the EU announced in 2013 that it was investigating Apple's Irish arrangement, the Irish government decided that firms incorporated there could no longer be stateless for tax purposes.
Paradise Papers documents show Apple's two key Irish subsidiaries, Apple Operations International (AOI), believed to hold most of Apple's massive $252bn overseas cash hoard, and Apple Sales International (ASI), were managed from Appleby's office in Jersey from the start of 2015 until early 2016.
This would have enabled Apple to continue avoiding billions in tax around the world.
Apple's 2017 accounts showed they made $44.7bn outside the US and paid just $1.65bn in taxes to foreign governments, a rate of around 3.7%. That is less than a sixth of the average rate of corporation tax in the world.
Leaked emails also make it clear that Apple wanted to keep the move secret.
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