Apple was among 12 tech companies — also including Google and Microsoft — which appeared in front of an Australian parliamentary hearing on Wednesday to defend their corporate tax structures in the country.
Apple has previously stood accused of shifting close to $8.1 billion in untaxed profits from its Australian operations to its business operations in Ireland over the course of the past decade.
“The Australian public don’t accept that the structures that are being created by these companies are necessarily genuine, and there is a strong sense out there that companies … also have a great moral and social responsibility to give more back to this community,” the hearing’s chair Sam Dastyari said.
Dastyari went on to add that the tax structures of multinational companies, which channel funds via tax havens and take advantage of loopholes, have “been designed to minimise your tax obligation in this country.”
During the last year, Apple raked in Aus$6 billion and generated a net profit of Aus$250 million, ultimately paying a tax bill of around Aus$80 million (US$61,741,600). A prior investigation by the Australian Financial Review supposedly shows how Apple shifted untaxed profits from Australia to Ireland, where the company pays just 0.7% tax on its turnover.
Apple, however, denies any wrongdoing.
“We haven’t shifted any profits. We booked all of our revenues here, all of our costs,” Apple’s Australia and New Zealand managing director told the committee on Wednesday.
Ultimately, the issue is more of a local laws issue than it is an Apple one. Provided that Apple is recording all of its revenue properly, it isn’t committing any kind of fraud, and is only doing what any competent accountant would do to limit the amount of unnecessary tax that it has to pay.
But Australia has made closing corporate tax loopholes a key political topic — as seen through the G20 meetings last year when it assumed the rotating presidency — and as such this investigation is sure to get plenty more focus before a decision is finally reached.