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Apple moved offshore billions to new tax havens

08 November 2017

That then led Apple lawyers to look at six offshore tax havens that might allow an Irish subsidiary to "conduct management activities without being subject to taxation in these jurisdictions", according to the "Paradise Papers". The move is said to have enabled Apple to amass as much as $252bn (£191bn) of cash offshore.

That prompted Apple to seek an alternative and, according to the BBC investigation of the Paradise Papers, the company identified Jersey - a UK Crown dependency that makes its own tax laws and has a zero per cent corporate tax rate for foreign companies. Specifically, to avoid paying $9 billion in US corporate taxes in 2012, Apple allegedly used a strategy that involved rapid transfers of cash between three offshore units with no tax "residence".

The documents, obtained by German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, were reviewed by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), along with a number of publications, including the New York Times and the Guardian.

ABC's Four Corners on Monday night revealed Nike sold around $500 million of sportswear in Australia a year ago, but recorded profits of just 2 per cent of its sales, therefore paying just $4.5 million in tax.

There is an ongoing legal battle between the Irish government, Apple and the European Union to claw back more money off the tech company.

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Apple moved the tax home of two Irish subsidiaries to Jersey, a self-governing island in the English Channel between Britain and France, and also made Ireland the tax home of a different European subsidiary.

Ireland's approach to Apple's tax payments has been under scrutiny by the European Commission since 2014, and the state was ordered previous year to reclaim €13bn in illegal tax benefits from the company.

The Papers are just a few of the hundreds of thousands leaked from offshore law firm Appleby, which recently warned its super-rich clients of a data breach in September previous year, reminiscent of the data breach in 2015 on Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca.

Apple said the new structure had not lowered its taxes.

Apple is one of many U.S. technology companies that have benefited from stashing cash overseas.

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"The changes we made did not reduce our tax payments in any country", Josh Rosenstock told the Times.

"There was no tax benefit for Apple from this change and, importantly, this did not reduce Apple's tax payments or tax liability in any country", Apple said, stating it had "paid billions of dollars in USA tax on the investment income of this subsidiary". That maneuver lets the companies avoid paying hefty taxes they could face by bringing the cash back to the US.

Apple's 2017 accounts showed it made $44.7bn outside the United States and paid $1.65bn in taxes to foreign governments, a rate of about 3.7%.

The European Union is now trying to force Ireland to collect €13 billion ($15 billion) in unpaid taxes from Apple.

The documents revealed that Apple approached Appleby, a Bermuda-based law firm known for managing offshore companies.

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Apple moved offshore billions to new tax havens