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View Diary: Rand Paul says Senate panel should apologize to Apple for bullying it over offshore tax shifting (101 comments)

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  •  I'm far from an expert on these matters, (6+ / 0-)
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    GAS, JeffW, Laconic Lib, foresterbob, TomFromNJ, eve

    but if some of these transfers of IP among different corporate siblings have to be at fair market value, they don't look like they were (or else more value would stay in the U.S.).  Transfer pricing, not specific to Apple, is a common tax avoidance strategy, where losses appear in high tax jurisdictions and credits elsewhere.

    Another trick is that Apple can borrow in the U.S. bond market at favorable rates because of its offshore cash reserves, which essentially gives it the benefit of such cash domestically.  They can also effectively pay repatriation taxes through deductions of debt service obligations (or repatriate should they have a down year, negating any taxes on the year the money should or could have been repatriated, or as we call it, a "Romney.")  

    Yes, this needs to be addressed legislatively, and probably by treaty.  It makes the case for a VAT.   Maybe then you'd see Apple shareholders clamoring for dividends, since their stock price would no longer reflect the value added by the accounting division but rather the expectation of cash distribution, which, though slanted to the rich, would still pump more money in the economy than kept in stock (probably because theory suggests shareholders should be neutral between dividends and shares in terms of their behavior, and therefore reflects unrealistic assumptions about human behavior).

    Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

    by Loge on Tue May 21, 2013 at 10:41:35 AM PDT

    •  thanks for this. (1+ / 0-)
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      I disagree with the diarist and the thrust of most of the comments.

      First I see that this whole hearing may have happened when Apple decided to float a bond issue here in order to get the funds to buy back some of Apple shares for their treasury stock (a legitimate use of funds) as well as to pay a bit higher dividend.
      This clever strategy shone an LED spot light on how Apple did not choose to repatriate their foreign held moneys to accomplish this but used the financial markets, proving how destructive our tax laws are to the country's well being.  Good work Apple! That's using your noodle. You're just doing what the tax law pretty much forces you to do. You'd be fired in a heart beat is you did otherwise.

      But this strategy got a lot of attention and now other companies are thinking of doing the same thing, as, I think Microsoft and others may be thinking - borrowing money here at home at low rates instead of paying 35% to bring foreign held funds back,


      I have listened to Cook's testimony and the testimony of the 2 tax experts in the previous panel to Tim Cook and the Apple employees.
      Cook, is I think, an honest guy. He has volunteered to appear and apparently wanted to do so in order to have some impact in changing the ludicrous tax law and have serious reform.

      Cook is right that there should not be a one time amnesty for bringing funds earned overseas back into this country. He thinks there should be some tax rate - to be determined - that would repatriate not only Apple's funds but the hundreds of billions of other multinationals that are run out of the U.S.

      The Congress is a mess.
      with stupid Rand Paul as an example.

      Fortunately, Carl Levin, Claire McKaskill, and even John McCain realize they must change the tax code to address these serious issues to repatriate these funds and structure the tax code so these funds stay here.

      I'm pleased that Cook knows the importance of and is prepared to help to restructure the tax code so that American corporations don't hide from their responsibilities.

      I think this is a good start and I'm sorta pleased.

      Finally people have gotten sick and tired of being had and taken for idiots. Mikhail Gorbachev

      by eve on Tue May 21, 2013 at 08:32:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I agree that Apple executives (1+ / 0-)
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        would be breaking a fiduciary duty if they did not attempt to pay taxes only up to the point Congress required.  That said, they did look like they pushed the envelope in some areas.  (And a company that large, with that much cash, that's pretty much inevitable.)  But, it's still a series of judgment calls and nothing's obviously evil.  (Mitt Romney's taxes, too, involved a lot of judgment calls, but the valuations he gave on transfers to 401(k)s set off red flags, and understanding that how deferred compensation works makes the claim of not paying taxes in a given year possibly true, if you care about  the year in which the partnership first received fees, not the year Mitt personally recognized them.) There's lots of fault to go around, but I would presume a Congressional hearing should be about new legislation or else it's a waste of time.  

        The moral condemnation approach is fine, but it's just not particularly relevant to Apple's decision-making.  Tim Cook is not going to base his decision on what you would do if you were in your shoes.  

        He's right that the one-time repatriation bonus is silly, because it (a) rewards bad if not illegal behavior, and (b) companies just expect it to happen again.

        I'm also not going to punish myself over this by boycotting Apple products.  

        Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

        by Loge on Wed May 22, 2013 at 05:09:30 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  sure, but in addition (0+ / 0-)

          'm thinking a few things that may or may not be correct.
 set up the deal with ireland 30 or 35 years ago - that is correct.
          2. tim cook took over within the last couple of years. - he has made a commitment to bring manufacturing back to this country recently. He "inherited" a company that was molded by the visionary (good) and libertarian (not so good) Steve Jobs.
          Jobs was a brilliant guy but he also was focused on the unrelenting goal to fulfill his vision for apple. He did not have a sense of social conscience like i think Tim Cook seems to be more attuned to.
          I think what we saw yesterday (and I watched the whole thing) was Kabuki Theater created to present a narrative for a reform of the tax system. Tim Cook was willing to play the role of CEO of huge company and was willing to reveal to the rest of us how his company has been structured. Of course he and his employees had to defend their practices. We shouldn't expect them to say - hey, I broke the law, come and get me.
          No. They showed the public how things really work and why they need to be fixed.

          Finally people have gotten sick and tired of being had and taken for idiots. Mikhail Gorbachev

          by eve on Wed May 22, 2013 at 06:50:07 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

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