Repatriation holiday

Sen. Tom Coburn is 'livid' about Apple's tax loopholes

May 2, 2012: 11:06 AM ET

Yet he is prepared to give the company the biggest tax break of them all

Coburn on Morning Joe. Source: MSNBC

FORTUNE -- I don't know what to say about Tom Coburn, the pro-gun, pro-death penalty, anti-abortion, anti-gay rights, Southern Baptist deacon and junior senator from Oklahoma.

  • As a congressman he protested NBC's 1997 broadcast of Schindler's List because its depiction of the Holocaust included "full-frontal nudity, violence and profanity."
  • In 2007 he threatened to block two bills honoring the 100th birthday of Rachel Carson, calling her efforts to ban DDT "junk science."
  • He was one of only three senators to vote against the 2012 Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) act that prohibits insider trading by elected officials. [In Coburn's defense, he said the bill didn't go far enough.]

What does this have to do with Apple (AAPL)?

On Tuesday, during an appearance on MSNBC's Morning Joe to promote his new book, The Debt Bomb, he was asked about the Sunday New York Times' front page story on Apple's tax strategies (see "Double Irish With a Dutch Sandwich").

"I'm livid about that," he said. "We have a tax code. Why should Apple pay at 10% and some company that can't export their technology, why are they paying 35%? Let's get rid of the loopholes."

Yet when asked by co-host Mika Brzezinski about the so-called "repatriation holiday" that Apple and others have been lobbying for -- a tax break that would permit U.S. corporations to bring an estimated $1 trillion in foreign profits back to the U.S. without paying the 35% the IRS currently taxes businesses on overseas earnings -- he was all for it.

"I think they're two different things, Mika," said Coburn, who sits on the Senate's Finance Committee's subcommittee on taxation and IRS oversight.

I'm no tax expert, and I don't have an informed opinion on whether tax-free repatriation would be good or bad in the long run for the U.S. economy. But I'm pretty sure that the tax holiday Coburn favors would save Apple a hell of a lot more than all the little loopholes that make him so livid.

But what do you expect from a guy who's against Schindler's List, Rachel Carson and the STOCK act?

Below the fold: Coburn's appearance on Morning Joe. Skip to 10:37 for the bit about Apple.

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