Topic of the day: Apple tax hearings

Published: Wednesday, May 22 2013 1:45 p.m. MDT

Apple CEO Tim Cook testified before congress yesterday regarding Apple\'s handling of its taxes. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) Apple CEO Tim Cook testified before congress yesterday regarding Apple\'s handling of its taxes. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Yesterday Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook was called before a congressional hearing to testify on whether or not the company did anything illegal regarding its taxes. Apple, and its subsidiaries, have reportedly failed to pay the 35 percent corporate tax rate on $30 billion, without technically doing anything illegal, shipping three intellectual property companies to the tax haven of Ireland.

The New Republic’s Lydia Depillis noted that it was possible that “no chief executive going before the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations has had a more friendly hearing room than Apple CEO Tim Cook.” The senators before the Apple CEO took their time to make sure it was understood how much they loved Apple products, as journalists typed up their reports on Mac books in the audience. “It was an odd theme for a committee hearing that was also trying to nail Apple to the wall.”

Washington Times's editorial board came to the defense of the company and its practices noticing that while some parts of Apple may not pay the full income tax (some don’t pay anything at all) “Apple isn’t exactly a scofflaw. "It paid almost $6 billion to the Treasury last year, which, the firm says, accounts for “$1 in every $40 in corporate income tax the U.S. Treasury collected last year.” The company’s 50,000 U.S. employees also pay taxes, as do the hundreds of thousands who sell software on Apple’s online “App Store.”

In fact it’s hard to find people who don’t, at least begrudgingly, admit that Apple did nothing wrong.

“Why are we publicly browbeating an iconic U.S. firm in an era in which we should be encouraging every innovative company to locate and expand high-value work in America?” asks Matt Miller in a Washington Post op-ed. Even the Washington Post’s own editorial couldn’t find itself to say Apple did anything more than exploit what they think is an unfair law. “We would say rather that Apple’s actions demonstrate the unfairness of the tax code — or at least its hopeless complexity … everything the company did was arguably legal under U.S. and Irish tax law.” But even if Apple acted legally, their actions are still not something to be lauded. “That Apple and others behaved legally does not mean that they behaved beneficially, from society’s point of view.”

Freeman Stevenson is a Snow College grad and is the DeseretNews.com opinion intern. Reach me at fstevenson@deseretdigital or @freemandesnews

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