Skip to main content

Story

On 03/08/2022, Ethical Consumer viewed a list of Apple Inc's subsidiaries on the D&B Hoovers corporate database.

This showed that the company had multiple subsidiaries in jurisdictions considered by Ethical Consumer to be tax havens at the time of writing. These included Ireland, Netherlands, Hong Kong, Singapore, Switzerland and Jersey.

Multiple of these were holding companies which was considered a high-risk company type for likely use of tax avoidance, including:
APPLE OPERATIONS INTERNATIONAL LIMITED, Ireland
APPLE SALES INTERNATIONAL LIMITED, Ireland
APPLE OPERATIONS EUROPE LIMITED, Ireland
Apple Holding B.V., Netherlands
APPLE SOUTH ASIA PTE. LTD., Singapore

The company was criticised by the Washington Post in a publication titled "Apple won’t have to pay nearly $15 billion in European taxes" dated 15/07/2020 for tax avoidance practices:
"In 2016, the executive branch of the European Union, the European Commission, found the Irish state facilitated Apple’s international tax avoidance strategies. The commission declared Ireland must collect 13 billion euros (about $15 billion) in unpaid taxes. On Wednesday morning, the General Court of the E.U. overruled the commission’s decision and found in favor of Apple and the Irish state".

The company published the following statement regarding its tax policy on its UK website:
"Taxes play a necessary and important role in our society and Apple believes every corporation has a responsibility to pay all the taxes they owe. As the largest taxpayer in the world we comply with the law wherever we operate and pay taxes on everything we earn around the world [...] Apple does not enter into artificial or abusive arrangements in order to reduce its liability to UK taxes.".

However, this was not considered to be adequate, as it did not appear that the company had provided a clear public tax statement confirming that it was this company’s policy not to engage in tax avoidance activity outside of the UK nor to use tax havens for tax avoidance purposes. It also did not appear to apply globally.
Apple provided some narrative explanation for its operations in Ireland and Jersey elsewhere, arguing that its presence in these tax havens brought no "tax benefit for Apple... and, importantly, this did not reduce Apple’s tax payments or tax liability in any country" (www.apple.com/uk/newsroom/2017/11/the-facts-about-apple-tax-payments). It however provided no explanation for operations in other havens nor did the company provide a narrative explanation for what each group entity located in a tax haven was for, and how it was not being used for purposes of tax minimisation. Moreover, no country-by-country financial reporting (CBCR) could be found using an internet search.

Overall, Apple Inc received a worst Ethical Consumer rating for likely use of tax avoidance strategies and lost a full mark in the Tax Conduct category.

Reference:

Tax Policy (3 August 2022)