It’s Not Just One Bad ‘Apple’

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Earlier this week, a Senate panel investigated how Apple avoided billions in taxes through a web of offshore subsidiaries “so complex it spanned continents and went beyond anything most experts had ever seen.” Although the company may have achieved, in the words of Sen. Carl Levin, the “holy grail of tax avoidance,” senators didn’t accuse Apple of doing anything illegal and it is by no means alone in its use of loopholes and gimmicks to avoid paying taxes.

Here’s a list, topped by Apple, of 10 companies that increased their offshore holdings in the past year.

Read more about this chart on the Citizens for Tax Justice site.

The U.S. corporate tax rate is 35 percent — one of the highest in the world — but as The New York Times reported yesterday, the effective corporate tax rate (what companies actually pay) “fell to 17.8 percent in 2012 from 42.5 percent in 1960,” according to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Another chart from the Citizens for Tax Justice shows 10 companies that managed to do much better than average, paying little or no taxes for the past five years. Dollar amounts are numbers in millions and “rate” is the effective tax rate that the companies paid.

Read more about this chart on the Citizens for Tax Justice site.

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  • Trojan Horace

    The G8 should be talking about passing a law that makes it illegal not to pay tax where the revenue is really earned

  • Karen Clark

    I feel like our country is topsy turvy. We have endless hearings about really nothing, our legislators actually praised Apple for its products instead of holding their feet to the fire and they want to slash foodstamps for the hungry.

  • Robert Lyons

    Do the negative entries reflect “tax benefits” received? Paid no taxes, PLUS, the Treasury sent hundreds of millions to them? How many thousands of ordinary working families and small businesses have to pony up just to send Facebook $429,000,000?

  • Judith Fester

    anyone who avoids taxes should be exiled from the United States.

  • Rob

    Same thing we all do with IRA’s, 401K’s, donations… Change the tax law. Make it better for corporations to keep their money in the US.!!!!!

  • Anonymous

    If the laws were changed, this would not happen.

  • Ghassan Karam

    Let us assume that you have the choice to recognize your income in state A whose rate is 40% or state B whose rate is 10%. What do you think will be the choice of 100% of income earners? Would you then consider them to be cheats as what many are implying Apple and other corporations are doing? The simple and easy answer to the above is “B” and “NO”.


    Corporations have shifted the burden of taxes onto the rest of us. There’s something to be said for shifting it back.


    They are not cheating by breaking the tax laws. They are cheating by using their power and leverage to have laws written that make it legal to dodge their tax responsibilities, even as they reap the benefits of operating in a civilized society.

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, if they want to be people too, they can pay.

  • Dale Rice

    Pretty Please, can we ask these Corporate Citizens of the US to participate in the UNITED STATES of AMERICA? Pretty Please?

  • Adriana Saavedra

    A once thriving middle class is now constantly squeezed on
    both sides: our taxes must produce increasing revenue to finance “free” programs
    for those in need, and wars, while corporate elites unrelentingly slash our
    incomes ensuring that their contributions merely work towards having the right
    political aid that ensures they don’t pay their share.

  • Anonymous

    There is a difference between not breaking the law and doing the right thing.

  • robynware

    How many of these companies received bailout money a while back? Regardless, shame on them.


    that would be half the population


    the wealthy wrote the tax code for themselves…..and congress passed it. the citizens of the USA do not matter much to them. we should reciprocate and pay zero taxes

  • musicandart

    Huge subsidies and offshoring to pay no taxes – no wonder these guys are so profitable – on our backs.

  • Bev Fleming

    Paying no taxes just cuts off the taxpayers nose to spite his face. We need to get those dicks out of congress and scare them into representing the people who vote for them …. Oh yeah….I forgot… we’re too busy being entertained by TV and sports to get involved……wasn’t that why they had the games in Rome at the collesium?

  • patinthehat

    I think it the whole concept of ‘corporation’ that needs to be changed. Like exist for a limited time for specific purposes.

  • Anonymous

    Be careful about assuming the poor put equal pressure on the middle as the wealthy. The pressure the middle class feels is quadrupled when you are below the poverty line. The cards are stacked against someone who wants out of poverty. It is an industry of sorts. It’s a hard road. I know, I did it.

  • keith

    That’s how the founding fathers felt.

  • Pat Elgee

    I think that we should throw out all incumbents and elected a House and Senate full of neophytes. They could not possibly do worse than what we have. We will not be able to stop the corruption, lobbyists’ bribes, special interests, greed, insider trading, and cult behaviors any other way.

  • Frigga

    I agree the entire concept of corporation needs to be changed. Bcorps are a step in the right direction (see, but I am not sure what their position on taxes is. As long as it is the sole duty of corporations to maximize profits, then corporations are obligated to function as sociopathic entities. The vast influence they now have over our government is making us non-functional as a balanced society. It’s like being married to an addicted and abusive spouse; it’s not going to end well for us if we don’t insist on change.

  • thepiffler

    We need a new Government as we have as our Founding Fathers and the reason for the revolution= No taxation without representation, We the people get the taxation the corps, citizens without souls, who pay little to no taxes get all the reprsetation, from the Congress they have bought and paid for. Get govt. bail outs for their crimes and steal from the public coffers, into which they throw pennies. Corporate wellfare is legislated and they get their way with environmental destruction, health and food chemical distruction of every thing we valuse. This is a fine tuned machine that has been laid out well in advance. Congress is made up of the 1%ers and the 1%er wanna be’s, Obama is a Trojan Horse and Both parties are working for the same end. The dots have connected themselves forming a straight line over the edge, and into the abyss. Declaration of Independence is required for freedom from theft, crimes, and destruction of the planet and all life.

  • ccaffrey

    They are living, and have their “personhood” in State A, take advantages of all the resources of State A, demand all sorts of considerations and favors of State A–and then claim their income in State B….or hide it in State C and not pay anything at all.

  • Anonymous

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  • ccaffrey

    While people in poverty may not pay FEDERAL income taxes, you can bet your life they pay plenty of taxes: sales tax (which also often includes taxes for transportation authorities and hospital or health districts), all the taxes and fees levied on gasoline, goods and services, utilities, as well as the same fees everyone else pays for vehicle inspections, registrations, park fees, etc, etc. Not only do the cost of the items and services continue to go up, but the taxes on them as well…just about everything but the wages many of the poor earn (damn straight they work…except maybe for the children who make up a large number of the poor receiving “free” services). Now, if there’s a 2% increase in those taxes, tell me who is more able to absorb that increase in terms of real spending power…someone who’s making $1000 a month or someone who’s making $10,000 a month? Then you have the richest corporations in the world who either figure out the cut-off point for an employee’s hours that put them under the number needed to qualify for benefits and even some, like Walmart, who factor in an employee’s ability to qualify for food stamps when determining wages. Ain’t nothin’ “free” for the poor. All hell is going to break loose the day the middle class finally cross that last psychological barrier, and realize they are…”the poor”. Right now they still like to carry an attitude of class distinction, and like to blame the poor for their troubles. The corporations WANT a desperate, unorganized work force, at odds with each other, willing to work harder and longer for stagnant wages, steeped in fear of losing their jobs. It’s the corporate dream.

  • Guy DeRome

    Campaign reform is the only thing we can do towards reducing corruption and the influence of lobbyists. But there is no incentive for Congress to do anything about it.

  • John

    Frigga’s comment is right on! Their customers are not you nor I that buy their products, but the stockholders.

  • Oscar Homolka

    Flat tax? No deductions or credits. Pay based upon earnings, otherwise close down.

  • bernalillo

    go ahead, ask politely. let me know how that works for you…

  • bernalillo

    dontwe need to grow up a little here? corporations are just fronts for people doing business to avoid risk and responcibility. do whatever you want with the concept of a corporation. the wealthy will simply create new dodges to bufuddle the middleclass. the problem is people not their shell games. tax the wealthy (living, dead and virtual) at the 90 percent rate.

  • Kevin Schmidt

    Flat taxes unfairly tax the poor, so they don’t work.

  • Desiato

    The discussion is about Corporations, not individuals. Are you suggesting we should apply a progressive tax policy with Corporations?

  • Isis

    I think I know exactly how Robin Hood felt.

  • Scout

    Frigga’s comment was brilliant and we need more people helping others to make the connections between corporate smoke and mirriors and what is really going on. Lets spread the word about “B” corporations.

  • Adriana Saavedra

    I didn’t say it was equal pressure. Here is one example: while my teenager is unable to qualify for free lunch at school, she must witness her friends -who qualify, update her expensive phones often.

  • Adriana Saavedra

    I am afraid it is already breaking loose but there are many other factors playing in the equation -willingly ignored by world leaders. Americans have been living a borrowed life style that has come to a breaking point. We consume 20% of the oil but represent 5% of the population and, in order to be strategically positioned to have this oil, many abuses of power/interventions have taken place around the world. This position has only exacerbated immigration issues. While it is impossible to sustain the world’s population at an American consumerist pace, it is also unconscionable that one country goes on using all the resources without ever having to deal with any consequences. Nevertheless, more often than not, history shows us that the tab ends up always being paid by innocent bystanders… we can only hope for this time to be the exception to the rule…

  • Willard D Russell

    Rand(perfect for the GOP)Paul wants us to apologize to the corporations for questioning their tax avoidance.
    Cold day from me.

  • johnboysmerc

    What effect does taking all this money out of circulation have on the economy?

  • Rowbirda

    If I refused to pay my taxes because I judged them unjust I would face grave consequences and it would be said to that I deserved them. Corporations use the same argument, justified by their self appointed title as job creators, and are granted tax avoidance.

  • Dr. Steve

    There is something to say for doing the right thing! Unfortunately, we are all going to feed our ego until there is no food left! How do we do the right thing? There has to be leaders who will do the right things, so it can trickle down? Or an educational system based on the right thing, so future generations will have it installed like software. Running a small business, the taxes are very burdensome; however, we do not try to dodge, use tricks or move out of State to avoid paying. I have to look my child’s wonderful teacher in the face, my Mailman has become a good friend and I could go on. Building an altruistic society must be done by altruistic leaders. Where are they? Economics and Ideology will work altruistically, no matter the system. Egoism will never work, regardless of the system, laws imposed or thwarted. The rich and powerful will never do the right thing. We try –

  • pete

    I sold all my ‘Apple’ stuff the first I learned about their anti-American offshoring ways, but I’m still not free of Microsoft because I need a replacement OS for Windows. Linux?

  • Anonymous

    The sad part about Mr Cook’s testimony is the complete and utter arrogance he demonstrated by implying that Apple is doing the right thing. He could have said this: “I admit that the federal government makes it easy for a company like Apple to screw the country that made it possible for Apple to exist. We could have chosen to not screw the country, but this is America, where the more money you have, the more there is a need to disown moral thinking, public responsibility, and payback. That being said…we will continue to screw the country until its brilliant legislators decide to not allow us to do it legally and without regret. God bless America!”

  • KT
  • Bob

    Right on! Corporations are like an invasive species, destroying the economic environment to feed their greed and impoverishing more and more workers everywhere in the world. If governments don’t work together to control these multinational corporations, those monsters will control us!

  • Rollie Lobsinger

    However we got to this place where, greed is good, and paying taxes is for the little people its time to change the rules that allow off shore tax havens to begin with and that allow corporations to purchase politicians by making them dependent on corporate donations.

  • Rollie Lobsinger

    Well said and summarized.

  • Rollie Lobsinger

    Then we need to counter their dodges, they are just people, not Gods, not the well springs of social good, They will not cease being rich if they have to pay taxes in keeping with their use of the planet and the their impact the environment and as support of the nation that allowed them to become rich.

  • johnboysmerc

    OK that is what is caused by unpaid taxes. What about the money that is taken out of circulation and sits in and offshore account. that has to have some effect on the overall economy. ???

  • Adriana Saavedra

    I am not sure if just favoring altruism would be the answer. Yes, we definitively need an education reform. One based on egalitarian principles providing equal opportunities to all, notwithstanding incomes. I have been trying to reach the appropriate people with three key ideas:

    A. Incorporate trades and love for artisanship K-12, to modify our current consumerist pace that is depleting the planet of resources and accelerating climate change (if students become aware of the value of labor at an early age, they will become effective administrators preventing waste later in life as leaders).
    B. Design organic farms to guarantee care for elders through
    youth labor hence retirement funds don’t end up in the hands of greedy and unconscionable politicians and CEO’s that use them to produce economy bubbles and wars because they disregard its intrinsic present and future value.
    C. A sustainable natural breastfeeding option for working
    mothers through spaces in day care centers that would improve population’s diet and health while providing a safe haven for those in emotionally abusive environments.

    Though these concepts are closely related to those sustaining a successful system in Finland, leaders appear more interested in standardized testing.

  • Kat Istas

    I enjoyed the part where every senator on that committee fawned over how wonderful apple products are and acted almost star-struck for opportunity to speak with Tim Cook. My own senator, for whom I did not vote-Deb Fischer- actually whipped her iPhone out to demonstrate how much she loved Apple.

  • edria voursalle

    The Supreme Court stated that “Corporations” should enjoy the same status as individuals (paraphrase), however, if individuals evade paying their taxes, they are prosecuted, but corporation aren’t. That is not equality, nor democratic.

  • Oscar Homolka

    But has it ever been tried? O do people simply say it does not work? Should build a model based upon last 40 years of tax returns/records.

  • Anonymous

    Almost every international company in the world, works like that.

  • Anonymous

    This is just fair. Why should a poor person pay a lower percentage of tax. This just shows why poor people stay poor. If the poor people don’t look for better jobs, or stay lazy and don’t work harder.
    Those people should not be rewarded, like what now happens with food stamps and welfare. This is really unfair to the middle and upper class citizens, who are willing to work.


    I think that we need to start looking at how companies do business. There has always been a disconnect between a greater sense of good, and meeting shareholders expectations. I am not naive enough to believe that adding further regulations will do the trick. Companies will simply override them. We need to have a greater social awakening in which the masses actively drive their business to companies operating with a higher sense of consciousness, and collective responsibility.

  • Ellen Walsh-smith

    Poor people are not poor just as a result of lack of opportunity, or as you said”lazy”. Many are working poor. Many of them are lacking some capabilities and in our country of exploitation they are the ones who are under paid and disregarded. They also do not have the ability to advocate or protect themselves when they are being taken advantage of. They are too busy just trying to make it. Life is unfair and if your lucky enough to be a member of the middle or upper class in this country it seems to me you would be filled to capacity with gratitude, and be in a position to afford yourself a little empathy for people who are not as fortunate in any number of ways as yourself.

  • Anonymous

    And …..Mr. Obama proposed balancing the budget on the backs of the old and poor with his chained CPI proposal to cut Social Security benefits. Tsk. Tsk Tsk.
    Grand Bargain…or Grand Betrayal?

  • Maximum_207

    A large majority of the world is over populated by people who have several children dying of disease and starvation while giving birth to another. This is insane behavior and should be punished. To suggest that US citizens give up our life style for these immoral people is crazy. The statißtics you speak of would not seem so out of balance if people in third world nations didn’t breed like insects.

  • Alison

    Boycott Apple and all the other corporations that avoid taxes by moving profits offshore. Consumers have enormous power if they would only organize to wield it.