Tim Cook says charges of Apple tax avoidance are 'total political crap'

Tim Cook: Notion of Apple Avoiding US Taxes 'Political Crap'
Tim Cook: Notion of Apple Avoiding US Taxes 'Political Crap'

Apple CEO Tim Cook is not happy about people calling him a "tax avoider," and thinks the current US tax code on foreign income is broken.

During an interview with "60 Minutes," Cook got uncharacteristically rattled by questions accusing Apple of hoarding billions of dollars overseas in order to allegedly dodge higher corporate tax rates in the U.S.

"We pay more taxes in this country than anyone," Cook said, while acknowledging that that should be the case since Apple is the most profitable company in the US.

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Cook said he'd love to bring back some of the cash to the U.S., but it wouldn't make sense under the current tax code. "It would cost me 40% [taxes] to bring it home. And I don't think that's a reasonable thing to do," he said.

Cook continued, "This is a tax code, Charlie, that was made for the industrial age, not the digital age. It's backwards. It's awful for America. It should have been fixed many years ago. It's past time to get it done."

When Rose followed up with the Senate's assertion that Apple's running a scheme "to pay little or no corporate taxes on $74 billion in revenues held overseas," Cook simply said it's "total political crap."

"There is no truth behind it. Apple pays every tax dollar we owe," he said.

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Apple keeps most of the money it generates overseas parked offshore. The company says it's because most of the money is reinvested in foreign entities, but critics have argued it's a sophisticated maneuver to avoid the ~35% US corporate tax, which is significantly higher than the 12.5% rate in Ireland, where Apple keeps most of its cash.

"Substantially all of the Company's undistributed international earnings intended to be indefinitely reinvested in operations outside the U.S. were generated by subsidiaries organized in Ireland, which has a statutory tax rate of 12.5%," Apple wrote in its annual report.

Apple had $186.9 billion of the company's cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities outside of the US, according to the annual report.

The full interview is scheduled to air on December 20.

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