On an episode of 60 Minutes that aired last week, CEO Tim Cook called allegations of Apple's tax evasion 'total political crap' after being accused of holding $74 billion in revenues overseas. "Apple pays every tax dollar we owe," said Cook, a claim he'll likely regret making after today's news.
That's because Apple Italia, the company's Milan-based subsidiary, has reportedly neglected to pay €880 million (about $960.5 million) in taxes between 2008 and 2013, according to Italian news source la Republicca. The Cupertino-based tech behemoth now has to pay €318 million in fines (about $347.1 million) as a result of the investigation conducted by tax authorities in Italy. A representative of the tax agency in question has confirmed the validity of this report.
Apple Italia serves as part of the company's larger European operation based in Cork County, Ireland, where corporate taxes are at some of their lowest in the whole continent. Where Italy normally taxes corporate earnings at a rate of 27.5 percent, Ireland accepts a much more modest 12.5 percent.
While investigating Apple's tax history between the years of 2008 to 2013, authorities began to notice a sufficient gap amid the €1 billion in revenues earned by the company and the €30 million paid in taxes.
Though Apple itself has declined to comment on any of these reports, the company is not alone. In fact, European Commission has been investigating tax procedures of a wide variety of international corporations, like Apple, to find out which ones are using cross-border frameworks to relieve or reduce taxes owed -- occassionally with the aid of covert and unlawful "sweetheart" deals.
Apple's questionable arrangements in Ireland have resulted in widespread conflict about the legalities of "parking" earnings in low-tax countries to avoid higher payments. Investigators will soon reveal whether or not this sort of behavior should be classified as illegal state aid.
Apple has headquartered its European operations in Ireland since 1980 and has since made plans to grow its employee count 6,000 in that location.