Apple Inc., the computer giant and maker of the iPhone, is notorious for its tax avoidance schemes. Such gimmicks prompted a Congressional Senate subcommittee hearing on the corporation’s practices last May. A little bit of digging by Congressional staffers revealed that Apple channels tens-of-billions of dollars of profit through three entities that have no home country for tax purposes. So, despite the fact that most of Apple’s profits ought to be taxable, it is able to skirt paying its fair of taxes by setting up offshore tax havens.
As I explained earlier today, Apple is able to check out on billions in taxes by simply checking a box on the IRS tax form. The “check the box” rule allows companies to use offshore entities as a front to avoid paying their fair share of taxes. Currently, businesses can defer US tax on payments made from one dummy corporation to another, which effectively makes their passive income invisible for tax purposes. This rule has allowed Apple to avoid US taxes on $44 billion in profits over four years from 2009 to 2012.
Senator Carl Levin’s Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act bill would repeal the “check the box” rule and related rules. Combined, closing these corporate tax loopholes is estimated to save the US $78 billion over the next decade.
Such loopholes need to be eliminated to ensure equity to all taxpayers. These tax gimmicks likely don’t sit very well with taxpayers in our state and the nation because we all know that businesses benefit from public investments—like an educated workforce and a solid transportation system—that help make their success possible. It is in the best interest of all taxpayers for corporations to pay their fair share.