Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 7th Nov 2017 09:52 UTC
In the News

Five months after Mr. Cook's testimony, Irish officials began to crack down on the tax structure Apple had exploited. So the iPhone maker went hunting for another place to park its profits, newly leaked records show. With help from law firms that specialize in offshore tax shelters, the company canvassed multiple jurisdictions before settling on the small island of Jersey, which typically does not tax corporate income.

Apple has accumulated more than $128 billion in profits offshore, and probably much more, that is untaxed by the United States and hardly touched by any other country. Nearly all of that was made over the past decade.

Apple is the largest company in the world, so they're the big target - but tons of other companies engage in the same shady activities.

Every euro or dollar Apple, Google, and Facebook dodge in taxes is a euro or dollar regular folk like you and I have to pay instead. These companies make use of all the facilities and infrastructure paid for by our tax euros and dollars, but then turn around and stab society in the back by extracting vast sums of wealth from it without paying their fair share of taxes. It's exactly this reason why the divide between rich and poor is growing exponentially, which in turn is destabilising our communities because it becomes ever clearer that the Tim Cooks and Mark Zuckerbergs of this world get to live under a different set of rules than you and I.

I am lucky to live in an incredibly solid welfare state, where, while exceptions exist, we take care of each other (interestingly enough, The Netherlands is also one of the biggest shady tax havens in the world). A welfare state is built upon the concept of the strongest shoulders carrying the heaviest burdens, and the knowledge that Joe Billionaire is capable of paying more into the system than Jane Minimum Wage. When this system of trust breaks down - as it clearly is at risk of - our society breaks down. The fact that Tim Cook et al. have the gall to claim their 0.0002% tax rate is "fair" just rubs more salt in the wounds of any regular person who dutifully pays her or his 20-40% taxes every year.

Sadly, any meaningful change to the tax codes of the US and the EU will be blocked through the corruption and bribery Apple, Google, Facebook, and so on engage in on a daily basis. Unless we break these giants up into small companies that aren't 'too big to fail', our societies will grow ever more at their mercy.

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Tony Swash
Member since:

The real tragedy of the EU is that hubris and misjudgment has meant it has strayed a very long way from what many of us once hoped it would become. After I emerged from post 1968 mad delusions of imminent revolution I spent a long time working inside the system trying to make things better. I spent the last twenty years of my working life working full time on EU projects. I was a tremendous enthusiast for the EU project precisely because I thought a strong united Europe was exactly the sort of entity that could stand up to the power of international capital.

I didn’t want to overthrow capitalism anymore I just wanted to tame it and thought the EU a good instrument for that. Unfortunately I began to feel that the entire project had gone horribly wrong, basically after the Maastricht Treaty when so much economic power was ceded to essentially non-democratic entities whilst making no progress on a political or social union. Then when the crash came and I watched the enormous and pointless cruelty inflicted on the Greek people I realised that the EU had morphed into something I found it hard to defend (I still voted Remain though). The weakening of democracy in Europe - and the EU is a significant factor in that - is truly scary.

Now I agree with Wolfgang Streeck that the coming era will be a strange and difficult one as capital can now operate globally almost free of restraint by democratic governments - as it did in the first half of the 20th century (and look what happened back then).

I wrote a long two part account of how and why my views on the EU changed, with a fairly detailed account of its main design flaws, and would happy to post links if it was appropriate/acceptable.

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