FORTUNE -- In June, three weeks after the media had their fun (ahem, Jon Stewart) with Tim Cook's appearance before the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, Apple (AAPL) received a fax from the Securities Exchange Commission.
The SEC's staff had taken a close look at Apple's Form 10-K for fiscal 2012 and it had several questions. One of them mentioned Cook's testimony:
Your financial statements indicate that you provide for any related tax liability on undistributed foreign earnings that "may be repatriated." Please explain to us how the phrase "may be repatriated" should be interpreted in this context. We note that Tim Cook [testified] that you have no plans to repatriate these earnings at the current tax rate. In addition, explain to us how you evaluated the criteria for the exception to recognition of a deferred tax liability in accordance with ASC 740-30-25-17 and 18 for undistributed earnings that are intended to be indefinitely reinvested.
It was a question only a tax accountant could love. But over the summer, Apple answered it and six additional, equally complex queries. The SEC was letting Apple know that everything it did to minimize its tax burden was going to be scrutinized extra carefully by the agency's sharp-eyed tax experts.
But in the end, the only thing Apple had to change was the language of its SEC filings. Basically, the agency wanted enough information in the 10-K so that a shareholder who studied it might understand how the company's tax strategies worked and what risks they entailed.
Apple agreed, and on Sept. 5 the SEC alerted the company that its review was complete.
That, apparently, is agency-speak for "the investigation is closed, pending further revelations."
Links to the letters:
A former U.S. senator comes to Tim Cook's defense in the New York Times' sister paper.
FORTUNE -- "As a multinational company, Apple sells products and earns profits in dozens of countries," writes former senator John E. Sununu (Rep., N.H.) on the op-ed page of Monday's Boston Globe. "The U.S. government, unlike most others, attempts to collect taxes on all of those profits, not just those earned in the United States."
And MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - May 27, 2013 7:41 AM ET
"Who are those people? What is the opposite of a Genius Bar?"
FORTUNE -- You knew The Daily Show wasn't going to pass up a chance to comment on a hearing as unintentionally comical as the Senate subcommittee's probe into Apple's (AAPL) taxes.
Apologies for the fuzzy YouTube clip. There's a better version on Comedy Central's Daily Show site.Philip Elmer-DeWitt - May 23, 2013 1:01 PM ET
On the New York Times Op-Ed page he calls Apple CEO Tim Cook a liar.
FORTUNE -- I met Joe Nocera once, and he seemed like a nice guy. Over his long career as a business journalist -- including more than a decade at Fortune -- he's done some first-rate work on Apple (AAPL). "The Second Coming of Steve Jobs," a profile for Esquire of the entrepreneur at age 31, may MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - May 23, 2013 7:24 AM ET
To the surprise of many, it was the Tea Party candidate from Wisconsin.
FORTUNE -- Sen. Ron Johnson -- not to be confused with the Ron Johnson who created the Genius Bar -- gets a lot of heat from liberals in his home state for his positions on abortion (he's against it), same sex marriage (ditto), global warming (caused by sun spots) and the Violence Against Women Act (unconstitutional).
There's even a MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - May 22, 2013 1:13 PM ET
Reporters wrote two kinds of second-day stories, with two very different takes.
FORTUNE -- A search of Google News the day after Tim Cook's Senate testimony on Apple's (AAPL) taxes turned up two kinds of stories.
Headlines reporting on the fact of the hearing tended to use metaphors of violence ("rip," "lambaste," "clash," "spar," "fend off") or of high-temperature torture ("grilled," "under fire," "hot seat").
But the journalists who reported on the atmospherics MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - May 22, 2013 10:14 AM ET
No one laid a glove on Apple's CEO, not even the subcommittee's hostile chairman.
FORTUNE -- In February, the Huffington Post's Jason Gilbert reviewed the performance of Apple (AAPL) shares on days that Tim Cook spoke in public and concluded, as his headline put it,
The Last 6 Times Tim Cook Has Talked, Apple's Stock Has Dropped.
So it was with some trepidation that Apple investors tuned in to C-Span.org Tuesday morning to watch Cook's MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - May 21, 2013 3:05 PM ET
The junior senator from Kentucky has been tweeting up a storm in Apple's defense.
FORTUNE -- In subcommittee hearings Tuesday, Senators Carl Levin and John McCain were careful to balance praise for Apple's (AAPL) achievements with outrage over its "convoluted and pernicious" (McCain's words) tax avoidance strategies.
Sen. Rand Paul showed no such balance. He lit into his own committee's leadership for "dragging" one of America's great success stories into what he MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - May 21, 2013 11:10 AM ET
C-Span.org began coverage at 9:30 a.m. Tim Cook is scheduled to appear in Part 2.
FORTUNE -- If the subcommittee report is any indication, Tim Cook and his colleagues will face tough questions Tuesday from Sens. Carl Levin (Dem.) and John McCain's (Rep.) Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.
The report charges that Apple (AAPL) avoided paying roughly $10 billion in U.S. taxes a year by funneling foreign income through a series of Irish MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - May 21, 2013 9:30 AM ET
It's a good thing for Apple that most people won't read the Senate subcommittee's report.
FORTUNE -- The 40-page case study on Apple's (AAPL) overseas tax strategies submitted by the Senate's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations Monday is not an easy read.
The 10-page overview of tax principles and law in the middle -- a history of how a program to block the use of offshore tax havens begun by President Kennedy was MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - May 21, 2013 7:33 AM ET
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