Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigation

How Apple sidestepped U.S. taxes: The Senate's version

May 20, 2013: 7:05 PM ET

The results of its probe of Apple's offshore taxes are now available online.

Screen Shot 2013-05-20 at 6.52.42 PMFORTUNE: By Monday afternoon, the day before Tim Cook's scheduled appearance before the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigation, both sides of the story were available online as PDFs: Apple's (AAPL) 17 pages of airbrushed testimony and the subcommitee staff's blistering 40-page retort.

As reader Jim Neal puts it: "Anybody who thinks this is going to be a cordial exchange of ideas has another think coming."

From the subcommittee's Executive Summary:

"The hearing will examine how Apple Inc., a U.S. multinational corporation, has used a variety of offshore structures, arrangements, and transactions to shift billions of dollars in profits away from the United States and into Ireland, where Apple has negotiated a special corporate tax rate of less than two percent. One of Apple's more unusual tactics has been to establish and direct substantial funds to offshore entities in Ireland, while claiming they are not tax residents of any jurisdiction. For example, Apple Inc. established an offshore subsidiary, Apple Operations International, which from 2009 to 2012 reported net income of $30 billion, but declined to declare any tax residence, filed no corporate income tax return, and paid no corporate income taxes to any national government for five years. A second Irish affiliate, Apple Sales International, received $74 billion in sales income over four years, but due in part to its alleged status as a non-tax resident, paid taxes on only a tiny fraction of that income.

"In addition, the hearing will examine how Apple Inc. transferred the economic rights to its intellectual property through a cost sharing agreement with its own offshore affiliates, and was thereby able to shift tens of billions of dollars offshore to a low tax jurisdiction and avoid U.S. tax. Apple Inc. then utilized U.S. tax loopholes, including the so-called "check-the-box" rules, to avoid U.S. taxes on $44 billion in taxable offshore income over the past four years, or about $10 billion in tax avoidance per year. The hearing will also examine some of the weaknesses and loopholes in certain U.S. tax code provisions, including transfer pricing, Subpart F, and related regulations, that enable multinational corporations to avoid U.S. taxes."

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