Matt Nippert does great work on tax (and other financial topics). His latest this weekend has a pretty compelling headline:
Apple pays zero tax in NZ despite sales of $4.2 billion
Consumer electronics giant Apple paid no income tax to Inland Revenue over the past decade despite selling billions of dollars worth of iPhones and iPads to New Zealanders.
The revelations about Apple’s local tax bill – in addition to international concerns about its use of havens such as Ireland – have sparked concerns a recently announced government crackdown on multinational tax avoidance may not go far enough.
In a statement issued from Australia, the multinational technology giant stressed it followed the law but did not directly address questions about the structuring of its New Zealand operations and the apparent lack of payments to Inland Revenue.
Spark chief executive Simon Moutter said Apple’s zero tax bill reinforced his concerns that New Zealand’s tax base was threatened by the burgeoning wave of technology companies.
Revenue Minister Judith Collins declined to talk to the Weekend Herald this week. A spokesperson first said Collins was “unable to fit in” an interview, but later stated the minister was unable to comment on individual taxpayers.
In a written statement, Collins said a “minority” of international companies were exploiting rules to avoiding paying tax and “we do not consider the amount of tax paid by these multinationals is fair”.
Earlier this month Collins released a package of tax reforms aimed at tackling the issue – first thrust on to the public agenda last year with the Herald’s Tax Gap series – but it is not clear whether the measures will have any effect on Apple. …
If the proposed changes don’t fix the loopholes that Apple is using then they don’t go far enough. Labour’s response is mentioned here:
Labour’s revenue spokesman Michael Wood said Kiwi taxpayers had “every reason to feel outraged” by Apple’s zero NZ tax bill.
“Nurses, cleaners, office workers, and small business owners, who pay their fair share of tax to support public services in our country, will be dismayed at these latest revelations,” he said.
“We know that this is the tip of the iceberg for big multinationals being let off the hook by the National Government being completely asleep at the wheel.”
We need to fix our tax law so that multinational’s pay their fair share. Of course it’s difficult, but it can’t be impossible. What’s the downside? What’s the delay?
Nippert’s summary of the context to the above:
The Tax Gap: The story so far
More background reading:
Top multinationals pay almost no tax in New Zealand
Tax loophole stays open for now
Tax audits of large companies plummet (WTF?)
Government planning action to target multinationals over tax
‘Not far enough’ – Opposition on tax crack down