News Release

Apple Avoiding Irish Taxes: Why is U.S. Gov. Doing Corporations’ Bidding?


JAMES HENRY, jamesshelburnehenry[at],
Henry’s books include The Blood Bankers: Tales from the Global Underground Economy and The Pirate Bankers.

He said today: “The EU has just dealt a sharp blow to tax competition — especially more than a decade of very aggressive tax dodging by MNCs [multinational corporations] like Apple, Alcoa, Google, Facebook and Pfizer, which have been parking their intellectual property and their non-U.S. sales in First World-corporate tax havens like Ireland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, and paying themselves profits and royalties almost tax-free. For example, Apple has used Irish shell companies that are essentially ‘citizens of nowhere’ for tax purposes to pay less than 4 percent taxes on more than $200 billion derived from its offshore activities. This kind of gouging, while strictly speaking, ‘legal,’ is utterly unprincipled, at a time when most ordinary U.S. taxpayers — including small business as individual taxpayers — are still struggling and the U.S. government is facing a huge debt burden as far as the eye can see.

“Yet the Obama administration has chosen to respond to this bold European step toward tax justice by denouncing it, and even threatening to launch a kind of ‘tax war’ in response. Why? It is just politics — like most other mainstream political parties around the world, both leading U.S. parties simply lack the courage to stand up to the MNC corporate tax lobby in an election year.”

The New York Times reports “Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York, called it a ‘cheap money grab’ by the European Commission, ‘targeting U.S. businesses and the U.S. tax base.'” Henry tweeted in response that Schumer “smells an [opportunity] for a cheap donation grab.”

Henry is a senior advisor to the Tax Justice Network, a global justice fellow at Yale, a senior fellow at the Columbia University Center for Sustainable investment and former chief economist of McKinsey and Company.