COMMENTARY | The New York Times’ recent report that Apple has taken some very slippery measures to ensure they pay less taxes has dismayed loyal Apple customers, including myself. I had to read through the article several times over to get a vague understanding of all that Apple was actually doing. This American company has avoided paying their fair share of taxes by basing out of tax-free Nevada, Ireland and the Netherlands — also known as the “Dutch Sandwich” — despite making billions of dollars in profits.
At one time, Apple was the good guy. They were the company that artists and writers like myself preferred. I often joke that I kiss my Mac before going to sleep, I love my computer so much. Unlike the evil empire, Microsoft, Apple devices were produced with care for exquisite design, intuitive technology and superior Unix-based Operating System. In less than a decade, Apple has changed how we live our lives, as well as enjoy and purchase entertainment. With Apple’s innovative technologies, we can no longer turn back to where we came from. Like the horse and buggy, record, video and book stores have been outdated by Apple’s iTunes virtual store.
Most of all, Apple is a great example of the American Dream. This company went from barely surviving to one that has more cash than the U.S. government in less than 15 years. Steve Jobs was the brilliant and inspiring visionary that was meticulous with creating the best product imaginable.
Yet, Apple has not lived up to a higher level of corporate responsibility. Instead of announcing that they would help our ailing economy, take a small hit in profits and create iPads in the U.S., they instead, threatened to leave their Cupertino, Calif., headquarters.
A year ago, in a rare public appearance, Steve Jobs was campaigning for a new Apple headquarters. When one councilperson inquired on creating an exchange-approval for free Wi-Fi for Cupertino, something that Google had arranged in Mountain View, Jobs replied, “See, I’m a simpleton; I’ve always had this view that we pay taxes, and the city should do those things.” And went on, “That’s why we pay taxes. Now, if we can get out of paying taxes, I’ll be glad to put up Wi-Fi.” He then went on to threaten them that Apple would could move, taking away the $8 million dollars in property taxes that Apple paid to Cupertino. The irony? Apple was not paying their fair share of taxes and yet Jobs felt it necessary to lie, play hardball and threaten the Cupertino City Council with leaving. These are not the actions of a responsible or honest corporation.
Every year, around tax time, there is a popular graphic of how little GE legally pays in taxes, using crafty lawyers and little known loopholes. Now, I believe that Apple is in that same, unethical category. With this new tax revelation, and the loss of Jobs, I hope a more worthy company will surpass Apple.