How Amazon, Apple, and Google played the tax-break game

It took about 30 minutes for Williamson County commissioners to unanimously approve a roughly $16 million incentive package for Apple Tuesday morning, bringing the total amount the tech giant is likely to receive in exchange for choosing Austin as the site for its newest campus to a cool $41 million. The new addition is set to be Apple’s second campus in the Austin, Texas, area – located less than a mile from the company’s existing facility, established five years ago. It comes with the promise of a $1 billion dollar investment from Apple in the area and the addition of up to 15,000 new jobs.

But the details of the incentive package Williamson County whipped up to woo Apple tell a slightly different story. In the contract approved by county officials, Apple committed to spending at least $400 million on the new campus and creating 4,000 jobs over 12 years. The contract says the jobs don’t necessarily have to be on the new campus in order for Apple to receive the promised incentives, but rather can be anywhere within Williamson County.

Shady and shoddy deals like these are only the tip of the iceberg – and don’t think this is merely an American thing. This entire past year in The Netherlands has been dominated by our newly elected government wanting to shove through an incredibly unpopular tax cut specifically designed to appease major (partly) Dutch multinationals like Shell and Unilever – a 2 billion euro tax cut while various important social services like police, education, and healthcare desperately need better pay and working conditions.

In the end, under immense public and political pressure, the tax cut was cancelled, but it goes to show that these things happen everywhere – in large, powerful nations like the US, but also in small, insignificant welfare states like The Netherlands.


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