Apple spends millions lobbying lawmakers about tax

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Apple is worth more than the entire US energy sector combined
Here's what Apple spends money on when it lobbies Congress.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

When it comes to lobbying Congress, Apple’s biggest focus by far is on tax laws. Out of 236 lobbying reports since 2005, tax is mentioned in a massive 76%.

This is one takeaway from a new report, analyzing lobbying spend from the big five tech giants, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft. Between them, they have spent $582 million on lobbying since 2005. According to the report, Apple spent $9.6 million on lobbying last year, and $59.9 million since 2005.

Apple’s focus on tax laws makes sense, based on how much money the company has accumulated. Apple has previously been accused of unscrupulous tax practices, which resulted in a massive retroactive tax bill from the EU. Tim Cook himself has been very critical of tax codes he says were designed for a pre-digital age.

The report, from vpnMentor, also notes that:

“Apple detail laws related to competition in 17% of their submissions. But perhaps more tellingly, it’s the only organisation to detail ‘technical barriers to trade’ in their lobbying reports, doing so in 21% of their submissions. This is likely due to the fact that the iOS App Store is seen as a closed ecosystem, not allowing users to purchase apps via third party platforms, an advantage the company are keen to protect.”

Focusing on data

Apple, unsurprisingly, spent a lot of money related to patents and copyright. Privacy, another focus of Tim Cook’s was mentioned in around 45% of lobbying reports. Another area of interest to Apple is health data. This follows Apple’s work in this area with devices like the health-tracking Apple Watch.

Laws related to the usage of consumer health data are listed in 10% of Apple’s reports. All of these follow 2014, when Apple was working on the Apple Watch. Data and cyber-security are also focuses of Apple, representing around the same proportion as its focus on health data.

Finally, Apple has started lobbying for autonomous vehicles since 2017. That would be around the time that the Apple Car project kicked into high gear.

Under Tim Cook’s leadership, Apple’s overall lobbying efforts have doubled. While it’s not mentioned in this report, Apple has also lobbied against Right to Repair legislation.

You can check out the whole report (which includes the lobbying spend of other tech giants) here.

Source: vpnMentor