Fix our tax law!

Written By: - Date published: 7:02 am, March 20th, 2017 - 128 comments
Categories: journalism, law, tax - Tags: , , , ,

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

128 comments on “Fix our tax law!”

  1. Antoine 1

    Presumably there’s GST on its sales, and income tax on their NZ employees, and rates on their NZ premises, and so forth… so that’s something…

    Does anyone know – where does Apple pay company tax on its income, and how much??

    A.

    • Carolyn_nth 1.1

      Apple spokesman said it paid most tax to the US.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 1.2

      The issue is that they pay no income tax. When you lick the spittle, how does it taste?

      • Antoine 1.2.1

        They do pay income tax, just not enough and not here. I wouldnt mind seeing that fixed, but it’s not easy to fix without doing more harm than good…

        • One Anonymous Bloke 1.2.1.1

          Answer the question.

        • Draco T Bastard 1.2.1.2

          Actually, it’s really easy to fix – once we start governing for ourselves rather than for the corporations.

          Just make it so that all income is taxed before it leaves our shores* and if a company isn’t tax resident in NZ then it’s not operating in NZ so none of this ‘but it’s owned in Australia’ BS.

          * If it’s leaving our shores then it’s income by default and will be taxed at the full 33%.

          • McFlock 1.2.1.2.1

            Trouble with that is that it’s usually not “income” or profit flow that the large corporations send overseas, but “licensing fees”, wholesaler purchases and suchlike that they pay to the company that owns the intellectual property – which just happens to be part of the same conglomerate.

            Basically, you just announced a 33% tarriff on all imports.

            • Draco T Bastard 1.2.1.2.1.1

              Ah, yes, the ‘transfer pricing’ that should also be illegal. There’s no reason why we’d even think of allowing it but lots of reasons why a business would want it – mostly to avoid paying taxes.

              The thing about business tax deductibility for purchase of goods and services needed to carry out their business is that the business that they’re buying off is also making a profit and is thus paying tax. If both businesses are in NZ then the government doesn’t lose any tax income. If the second business is outside of NZ though then the government is losing the tax on that income.

              This is what Apple is doing to pay no tax anywhere in the world.

              Basically, you just announced a 33% tarriff on all imports.

              No I didn’t. Or to be more precise, I just announced that all businesses should be on the same footing.

              • McFlock

                So how do you categorise “transfer pricing” as being different from a valid import?

                My personal feeling is that businesses should be taxed on revenue, not after-expenditure profit. Like people.

                • Mordecai

                  I like the concept, McFlock, but the problem is that companies in different sectors operate at vastly different profit margins. A turnover based tax would disproportionately hurt those businesses with high volume, low margin business models, and it is possible businesses could end up paying more tax than they make in profit.

                  • McFlock

                    Cheers, I’ve floated it a couple of times and that’s actually the first reason someone’s come up with as to why it might be a bad idea.

                    I’ll have a think.

                  • AB

                    Also small, start-up companies have revenue but are actually making a loss due to high investment costs.
                    A tax on revenue would kill them unless they get R&D grants or some such thing to cover the start-up phase.

                    • McFlock

                      The nice thing about running it like income tax is that you can put in a tax-free zone without larger corporations exploiting it as a loophole. Zero tax for companies with revenue of less than $1mil, for example, or not taxing the first half million in all company revenue.

                      And if a bank want to split themselves into 1,000 companies with revenue under that threshold, give the courts power to determine whether they’re separate companies or it’s a machination to evade tax.

                • Antoine

                  Revenue tax will get passed through to end consumers (see downthread). Also over-encourages vertical integration

                  • McFlock

                    Dunno about vertical integration, but the end-users are already getting reamed as much as economically possible at the optimum price by the corporation.

                    Prices are set by the market, not the supplier, no?

                    • Antoine

                      1. Vertical integration. Suppose company A produces lumber and sells it for $50 to company B who turns it into furniture and sells it for $100. Suppose further there is a 10% tax on revenue, then the two companies pay a total of $15. But if they merge into a single company C, then their revenue is only $100 (sale of furniture) and the revenue tax drops to $10. So there’s an incentive for A and B to merge into C, even though it may not otherwise make sense for them to do that.

                      2. Effect on prices. Suppose the going rate for widgets is $5 a pop, and end consumers buy 1000 widgets per year. Add a 10% tax on revenues. Then the natural step for the widget suppliers is to increase the cost of widgets to $5.55 – so that they still receive $5 after tax. This does mean that widget sales will reduce a little, as some customers think ‘buggered if I’m paying $5.55 for a widget’. So the supply side will be a bit worse off than before, however (being cynical) I suspect the bulk of the impact will be on the consumer. Like GST…

                      A.

                    • McFlock

                      1. Well, if it makes sense under the new rules, it’s not really a problem, is it. If two companies are that intertwined and without interlopers, then they probably should be working more closely together via a merger anyway.

                      2. that depends on the extent of competition in the widget market, no? My suspicion is that FB and apple have figured out the most they can ream NZers for. There might be a certain zone of compromise where their profit-maximising profile differs from the current profile, but it could go either way.

                      Selling 1000 widgets for $5.55 might maintain revenue of $5,000. Selling 800 @$5.55 gives profit of $4,000.
                      Selling 1000 @$5 gives profit of $4,500.
                      Selling 1,200 @$5 because your competitor went up to $5.55 gives $5,400.

                    • Antoine

                      1. It was a simple example for illustrative purposes. There may be more complicated situations where a merger is not really the natural outcome, but is pushed by the revenue tax anyway. It’s not the end of the world but it’s not great.

                      2. You are saying that companies would make most money by soaking the cost of the tax? Sounds highly unlikely. Your example has two key flaws: (a) if a widget costs $4 to make, then the final option of keeping the price at $5 is no longer optimal, and (b) if you keep the price at $5, your competitor is likely to follow you down leaving you both worse off.

                      When GST was introduced, and raised, how many companies said ‘oh well we’ll just soak that, we won’t pass it on to the consumer’? It’s essentially the same thing.

                      A.

                    • McFlock

                      1. businesses need to evolve to the conditions – it might not be great in this environment, but if it halves the combined tax liability then it might be great in the new environment. One could just as easily argue that the current tax structure encourages companies to take on more convoluted structures than is strictly appropriate.

                      2. Yes, some businesses will have less profit. That’s the point: increase the tax take (particularly from multinationals) by introducing a system that makes it more difficult to evade/avoid your due share. Other businesses, like small business or startups, might pay less tax if the multinationals pay their true share.

                      When GST was introduced, and raised, how many companies said ‘oh well we’ll just soak that, we won’t pass it on to the consumer’? It’s essentially the same thing.

                      Not really, because the GST increase raised the tax on essentials like food, not mostly just substitutable luxuries.

                      So in the case of a switch to revenue taxes, people will substitute to companies that already have traditional supply chains and structures, and therefore already pay their due in taxes.

                    • Antoine

                      So this is to replace, not to supplement, the existing corporate tax?

                    • McFlock

                      The current corporate tax system doesn’t work, otherwise we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

                      I don’t think a teensy effort at a revenue tax would affect the current situation of tax avoidance by multinationals. And an effort that would get them to pay more than a token amount of tax would end up hitting SMEs disproportionately harshly unless the profit-based taxes were significantly altered in structure – they’d be hit coming and going, whereas the multinationals would be hit only by the revenue tax.

                      And then there’s the question of whether one wants to change the overall tax take, or just distribute it more equitably: if SMEs are effectively paying much higher rates of tax than multinationals using Dutch Sandwiches and Rusty Trombones or whatever, maybe the benefit of getting the multinationals to pay their fair share is to simply lower the taxes for local SMEs.

                      Personally, I don’t see the point to retaining a tax system that doesn’t work if a more equitable option comes along – how many people keep a piece of crap car when they buy a new one that actually works?

                    • Antoine

                      I’m not smart enough to fully understand the impact on consumers and renters of replacing one tax with the other. I suppose consumers of goods that are traded multiple times within NZ would be the worst hit.

                      Oh, well, agree to disagree time. I think the distortionary impacts of the revenue tax – such as hitting new firms that are not yet profitable – plus the cost and disruption of changing – would outweigh the advantages. I don’t know much about tax but most tax experts seem to say the same. You’re welcome to your opinion though

                      A.

                    • McFlock

                      that’s good of you /sarc

                    • Antoine

                      Just saying

                • Draco T Bastard

                  So how do you categorise “transfer pricing” as being different from a valid import?

                  A valid import would be an actual physical product, i.e, an iPhone. What it would not be is Apple charging Apple for the use of Apple’s logo.

                  • McFlock

                    ok then.

                    so applecorp charge applenz obscene amounts per phone, or the physical store furniture.

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      And that should be picked up as well just as the doctors who weren’t paying themselves the going rate as a tax dodge was picked up.

                    • McFlock

                      But the doctors weren’t charging the going rate because there are other doctors to compare against.

                      Apple make apple stuff. What they charge is the going rate.

                    • The physical furniture isn’t vertically integrated and can be checked against the going rate pretty easily, so that’s not a problem. Draco is correct that intangibles are the most difficult thing to value, so making them count towards profit is arguably a fair move.

                      There are ways to compare import prices of apple phones against import prices of other phones and come to reasonable conclusions about whether apple are grossly overcharging their NZ division, but that’s getting a bit lost in the woods in my opinion.

                      You could also get into setting expected margins for products, but that’s a little risky as then the government is effectively banning low-margin paralell importing business models like The Warehouse, or at least putting red tape in their way.

                      I think the simpler solution is to:
                      a) Require companies to open a local operation in New Zealand if they are taking in more than a certain amount of revenue annually. This preserves ease of trading for small businesses based overseas offering innovative products, but makes large ones subject to our laws, and therefore open to investigation. They don’t necessarily need to have a physical presence, but they do need to legally register.
                      b) Have a corporate alternative minimum tax based on revenue and set at a low enough rate that any normal business model will spit out a lower figure than corporation tax, but high enough that it makes some of the expensive accounting and legal fictions needed for tax dodging less or not at all cost-effective.

                      Then have corporations pay whichever is higher- their local corporate tax obligations, or the corporate AMT. It still technically gives a small advantage to tax-dodgers, but if you ride the line between setting the AMT too high and setting it really close to the profit-based corporate tax rate for legitimate low-margin businesses, (or even provide an exemption to the AMT for low-margin businesses if there are good ways to tell them apart from tax-dodgers that will stay good ways after the law is in operation) then it will minimize that advantage and in many cases not make it worth the spend on accountants and tax laywers that are needed for really effective tax dogding.

                      That would neatly fix Draco’s concerns about multinationals dodging tax by “leasing” their subsidiaries their intellectual property without directly having to regulate each particular trick they came up with, and without risking low-margin business models if the settings are not too aggressive.

                      You could then use the extra revenue to set up some laws and hire some experts to do a thorough audit of tax-dodging practices, and outlaw the ones that the AMT didn’t naturally discourage.

                    • Antoine

                      Some good ideas there

                      But the AMT still penalises local businesses that are legitimately unprofitable in any given year (eg startups)

                      Also, I can figure out a simple way of avoiding it

                      A.

                    • McFlock

                      How would you avoid it?

                    • Antoine

                      May I assume, for the sake of argument, that companies pay either 30% of their profit, or 3% of their revenue, whichever is the higher?

                    • McFlock

                      whatevs. Knock yourself out.

                    • Antoine

                      OK,

                      1. assume company A (the local office of a multinational) has revenues of $100M and jigs its costs to be $100M also (through transfer pricing or whatever). Its taxable profit is nil, but it pays $3M tax on its revenues,

                      2. now imagine there’s a domestic company B, which has revenues of $100M and costs of $80M. Its taxable profit is $20M, so it pays $6M tax on its profit.

                      3. so the total tax paid by A and B combined is $9M.

                      4. Now company A says ‘aha’ and buys company B. Their total revenue is now $200M, their total costs $180M. Taxable profit is still $20M, so it pays $6M on its profit. Taxable revenue is now $200M, so the revenue tax would be $6M, which is no higher.

                      5. So the tax paid by the combined company has dropped from $9M to $6M.

                      6. Essentially no tax is now being paid on the operations of the original company A.

                    • McFlock

                      That’s not really avoidance, is it.

                      the previous owners of company B no longer receive revenue or profit from company B.

                      The owners of company A are still paying $6mil more tax than if they merely “jigged their costs” to eliminate taxable profit and there were no AMT/revenue tax.

                      It’s still an improvement on the current system, if company A were to buy company B.

                    • Antoine

                      The point is that the taxman is getting no more money than they would have under the status quo tax system (sans revenue tax).

                    • McFlock

                      The point is that you’re arguing that under the current system a domestic company can pay a significant amount of tax, while a multinational can structure itself so that it pays almost no tax.

                      You’re comparing apples (the current system which ends with one local and one multinational company) with oranges (the proposed system which ends with one multinational company).

                      Under the current system, company A buys company B and the combined tax take goes to zero, because structuring.

                      Under the proposed system, the multinational still pays tax because it can’t structure itself down to zero revenue from NZ, even if it structures itself down to zero profit.

                      Therefore, the proposed system is an improvement over the current system.

                    • Antoine

                      > Under the current system, company A buys company B and the combined tax take goes to zero, because structuring.

                      I’m not sure this bit is true. (But am not enough of an expert on how companies operate under the current system to be confident. I still don’t know how exactly Apple avoids paying tax in NZ)

                      A.

                    • McFlock

                      Read the post again.

                      If Apple International bought company A, why would it leave company A structured so that Company A pays more tax than Apple NZ?

      • Spectator 1.2.2

        Companies don’t pay income tax.

    • Siobhan 1.3

      “So, Apple has this amazing deal, where they’ve got essentially a shadow company in Ireland. And it’s incorporated in Ireland, but for Irish purposes, it’s an American company, and for American purposes, it’s an Irish company. And so you end up with this black hole of taxation where in fact this Apple subsidiary files a tax return to no government in the world. And so, it can use all kinds of accounting tricks to funnel money to this company, and they sit there essentially absolutely untaxed.”

      https://www.democracynow.org/2014/8/28/the_biggest_tax_scam_ever_how

      https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/dec/19/apple-cut-euro-13bn-irish-tax-bill-spreads-payments-eu-us

      So the thing is even when these Corporations appear to be paying Company tax, they still have Billions floating around in some sort of no mans land.

    • Sabine 1.4

      so us small business owners that have GST on our sales, have income tax on our NZ employees, an pay rates on our NZ premises and so forth…… so that’s something, can we to be exempt from Taxes cause reasons?

      • Antoine 1.4.1

        No!

        You must pay

        A.

        • Sabine 1.4.1.1

          or i could run my business as a ‘non profit’ (i.e. invest any cent that could be taxed back into my business and staff) and yeah, fuck it. Nah, whats good fro Apple is good for me.

          • Antoine 1.4.1.1.1

            I think your point is that you’d like Apple to pay some income tax in NZ as well, yeah? I agree.

            A.

            • Sabine 1.4.1.1.1.1

              considering that that is not gonna happen, no i would like to stop paying taxes just like apple. 🙂

              • Antoine

                All I can suggest is that you vote for a party that proposes to reduce the corporate tax rate

                A.

                • Sabine

                  nah, i will vote for the party that suggest that spending tax money sensibly on things like healthcare, schools, infrastructure and all that shit that we would like to have but are not prepared to pay for. Like Apple and other tax dodging companies. which i am not.

  2. Keith 2

    Despite knowing about this for most of his tenure as Finance Minister and for that matter for the life of the Key/English National government they have done……NOTHING. And people say John Key had no achievements!

    Sure there is the usual jaundiced Nat response to cracking down on “Tradee’s” who don’t declare GST but for the giant corporates such as Apple, what-fucking-ever.

    Useless as ever in the last month National have, I assume via polling and focus groups discovered their inaction and catatonic state when it comes to taxing wealth could be a problem for National at the polls. So English announces they are looking into it. The feeling I got was not too hard mind you. Just like their hurried 800 and something extra police to plug the holes in their budget cuts that is biting National in the arse.

    So I have questions;

    Does Apple donate to National? With our lack of transparency in party donations and the clever way National launder donations, who would know!
    Do any National MP’s and or those well invested in the National Party have share holdings in company’s that pay no tax like Apple?

    Because how else can anyone explain their total lack of action. Incompetence, surely not as they are masters and commanders of our “Rockstar” economy. So the next logical question surely is, is it corruption?

    And it has that similar feeling to the tax free rorts of property speculators in this country, the very ones National protect by doing nothing to change anything about our housing bubble!

    • Antoine 2.1

      Alongside other countries they are working on it and getting some successes, its not an easy problem though.

      I dont think you need to assume corruption, its just a tough nut to crack and there are a lot of smart people working on the multinational side.

      A.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 2.1.1

        You’re right: we don’t have to assume corruption because there are multiple lines of evidence that confirm it, including statements from the Minister, in this case and many others.

        Please don’t let any of this distract you from that glass of warm spittle you’re cradling.

        • Antoine 2.1.1.1

          That sounds false to me, but you may be using the term ‘corruption’ in some weird sense that makes it true. Want to explain?

          • One Anonymous Bloke 2.1.1.1.1

            …exploiting rules to avoiding [sic] paying tax…

            Observing the letter of the law to defeat the spirit of the law, the way the National Party uses Cabinet Club.

            “…he tiptoed through a minefield and came out clean…”

            You don’t understand this. That’s not a question. Looks like your glass is empty.

          • Mordecai 2.1.1.1.2

            It is false. Working within the law is not corruption. I suspect the author of that post is a conspiracy theorist.

            • Keith 2.1.1.1.2.1

              Ensuring and in this case on behalf of National, outright omission, that the tax laws are set so some pay and not others like Apple don’t doesn’t seem ethical, moral or even vaguely correct to me. Especially a company like Apple who move heaven and earth to make their consumers pay retail plus plus for everything and then have the audacity to avoid paying tax.

              I think even the CEO of Spark agrees. But maybe he’s a conspiracy theorist too?

              And doesn’t Nationals favourite hospital cater do the same? Funny that. http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/302846/questions-over-compass'-tax-payments

              You have got to wonder why people try and defend this shit.

            • One Anonymous Bloke 2.1.1.1.2.2

              Working within the law is not corruption…

              From the OP:

              Collins said a “minority” of international companies were exploiting rules to avoiding [sic] paying tax and “we do not consider the amount of tax paid by these multinationals is fair”

              Observing the letter of the law to defeat the spirit of the law may not seem corrupt to you, Mordecai.

              I can’t imagine somebody like Thomas Jefferson tiptoeing through a mine field on the technicalities of the law, and then bragging about being clean afterwards.

              Jimmy Carter, The Law Day Speech

  3. roy cartland 3

    “Tradee’s”…

    Don’t forget the Bennoes, who have received the crackdown for having the audacity to be overpaid by WINZ incompetence, and indeed to be underpaid by incompetence of same.

  4. slumbergod 4

    Totally DISGUSTING. As far as I am concerned it shows how corrupt our Natzi Party politicians are. They know it is wrong but they don’t give a toss because they love multinationals more than Kiwis. SCREW THEM!

    • Antoine 4.1

      Labour did no better, are they corrupt Nazis too?

      A.

      • Keith 4.1.1

        I let you in a little secret. National have been in power since 2008, just Google it. Labour cannot do anything from the opposition benches.

        Its all Labours fault is well past its used by date!

        • Antoine 4.1.1.1

          What would Labour do about this if they got back into power in 2017, then?

          I strongly suspect the answer is ‘pretty much the same as what National is doing now’.

          • Keith 4.1.1.1.1

            Who knows but these turkeys are in charge until then so what are they doing right now??? I mean Minister Crusher keeps strutting around being all tough until this came out and then hid under her bed and won’t comment.

            But in short here’s the National governments 6 point 2017 answer;

            Conduct daily polling to see if they can weather the storm
            Focus group strategy’s to pretend to care and do something that keeps everything the same but for appearances sake.
            Keep investing in Apple.
            Divert attention
            Blame Labour
            Lie.

            • Antoine 4.1.1.1.1.1

              When you demonstrate that Labour has got a better approach, the conversation might start to be interesting.

              Otherwise, if you honestly can’t think of anything that could be done better, you might conclude that the problem is actually quite difficult and that National might not really be corrupt Nazis after all.

              A.

              • Keith

                Antoine, National are in the drivers seat today, right here, right now and have been for nearly nine years. What have they done and what are THEY doing right now because they have the ability to do it, don’t they?

                Does that not tell you something about how useless they are. Does that not suggest to you that their so called sublime economic management of this country is a farce?

                You are conceding they have nothing, they are on empty.

                But worse than that they have no will to do anything. And the very important question is why is that?

                • Antoine

                  They are trying, but because it is a hard problem, progress is slow. A Labour led government would be in the same boat. I can’t make it any clearer than that.

                  A.

                  • Draco T Bastard

                    National seem to be trying very hard to not do anything by saying that it’s too hard – just like you in fact.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      Oravida employee lands job as Revenue Minister, threatens competitors.

                    • Antoine

                      Never claimed to be a Judith Collins fan

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      The rule will apply to companies that have a global turnover of more than €750 million (NZ$1.1b).

                      Ah, so they’ve conveniently written in another loophole for tax avoidance.

                    • Antoine

                      €750 million deminimus – I would have thought you guys would be happy to see rules specifically targeted at very large multinationals! Can’t please ’em all

                      A.

                    • Keith

                      Your examples show National knew it was going on, made an announcement in 2013 to do something about it and did nothing.

                      Then in 2015 they made another announcement and did precisely nothing.

                      But this time its March 2017 and look out world, National have made another announcement on the same subject but this time it’s accompanied by a photo of Crusher looking all scary and feral. What do you reckon this time around, if history has taught us anything?

                      I will take a very educated guess and as your examples have proven, National announces something to it off the front pages and then never do anything meaningful about it.

                      We have watched this distraction tactic ad nauseam for the past 8 and a half years.

                    • Antoine

                      What do you mean they did nothing? They did some things, but those things were ineffective in the case of Apple.

                      A.

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      €750 million deminimus – I would have thought you guys would be happy to see rules specifically targeted at very large multinationals!

                      Either you truly are an idiot or you’re playing dumb.

                      Under such a rule all of the multi-nationals that come here will now have a turnover of less than €750 million and so the rules won’t apply to them. And they’ll probably be based in the Caymans or other tax havens.

            • roy cartland 4.1.1.1.1.2

              I’m sure you (Antoine) will be just as vocal against Labour allowing this type of economic treason as we are now. So that’ll count for something.

          • Draco T Bastard 4.1.1.1.2

            Labour spent a lot of time and effort cleaning up the tax laws last time. Apparently making them more coherent, easier to read and putting them all in the same place.

            So, yeah, they didn’t fix tax loopholes at the same time but I at least have some idea that they’d be willing to look at it.

            National, well, they’re spending time telling us that nothing can be done – just like you in fact.

          • Sabine 4.1.1.1.3

            when that comes do, we can blame Labour.

            but for now, its National that is washing their hands in innocence and ask the tax payer to pay for the manicure. Lazy fucks really.

        • Mordecai 4.1.1.2

          Did Apple pay any tax in NZ when Labour was in power? If not, I call hypocrisy on you and them.

          • roy cartland 4.1.1.2.1

            And how does that fix the problem?

            • Antoine 4.1.1.2.1.1

              It doesn’t fix the problem of taxing multinationals, but it may help some of the people on this thread to take a bit more of a realistic view of what National can achieve.

              A.

          • Matthew Whitehead 4.1.1.2.2

            Apple didn’t sell anything close to the number of products in New Zealand it now does when Labour was in power, so there wasn’t a comparably sized business to look at whose tax dodging would be problematic.

            Did Labour fail to solve tax dodging during their term? Sure. But they had other more urgent problems to solve at the time and honestly didn’t need the revenue as much as we do now.

  5. dv 5

    A TOBIN tax of about 3% would help.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 5.1

      That might generate more revenue than you could spend 🙂

      • Tobin taxes are Financial Transactions Taxes, right?

        Trust me when I say that’s not likely to be a problem. Most estimates I’ve seen of the likely revenue from such a tax are more than an order of magnitude lower than a Capital Gains Tax in terms of revenue, as the tax has a dual-effect: it gathers a bit off revenue off certain classes of capital investors, but it also discourages high-frequency speculation at the same time.

        It’s kind a win-win between stopping harmful high-frequency speculation and generating the sorts of revenue you seem to think it will- it’s going to do at least one, lol.

    • Antoine 5.2

      Tobin taxes would get passed on to end consumers through price rises in Apple products, wouldn’t they? Easier just to raise GST, for a similar effect?

      • Keith 5.2.1

        Terrible, rip off Apple products go up. How sad.

        • Antoine 5.2.1.1

          Along with all other goods and services

          • One Anonymous Bloke 5.2.1.1.1

            Explain the mechanism behind that, if you can.

          • Draco T Bastard 5.2.1.1.2

            No, A Tobin Tax is only applied on money leaving the country. If they put the prices up to cover it all that will happen is that they’ll pay more tax while probably losing sales.

            And not all other goods and services are provided by multi-national corporations looking to steal from the country by not paying tax.

            • Antoine 5.2.1.1.2.1

              Indeed, I should have said ‘all imported goods and services in areas where there is no domestic substitute’ as per downthread. My bad.

              Still not great for the end consumer. It’s actually pretty hard to wallop the supply side while having no adverse impact on the demand side.

              A.

              • Draco T Bastard

                Still not great for the end consumer.

                Actually, it is.

                The whole concept of the pricing mechanism is putting in place restrictions on what’s bought. If it costs too much then it won’t be bought and profits won’t be high enough and thus releasing resources (or simply not using them) for things that are more beneficial to the people.

                That’s what the exchange rate is supposed to do as well. As a country spends more and more offshore so it’s exchange rate is supposed to fall making importing more expensive and thus decreasing the importation of goods and thus automatically maintaining a rough balance.

                Unfortunately, what we have politicians, businesses and idiots complaining when those conditions actually apply and thus seek ways to prevent them from applying – just like you’re doing now.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 5.2.2

        A Tobin tax is levied on financial transactions. Apple would be unaffected. Stop paying so much attention to warm spittle and you might learn something.

        • Antoine 5.2.2.1

          You dont think Apple carries out any financial transactions??

          A.

          • One Anonymous Bloke 5.2.2.1.1

            You are full of shit. Show me where FTTs have ever led to an increase in the price of consumer goods.

        • Draco T Bastard 5.2.2.2

          A Tobin Tax is not a general purpose FTT.

          • One Anonymous Bloke 5.2.2.2.1

            There is no such thing as a “general purpose” FTT: they come in different forms. I have yet to see how they lead to consumer goods inflation.

            • Draco T Bastard 5.2.2.2.1.1

              Actually, there is. All the ones mooted lately have been general purpose FTTs that apply to every single financial transaction.

              The Tobin Tax only applies to money leaving a country.

              It’s not a good idea to get the two confused.

      • mpledger 5.2.3

        Apple products are “nice to haves” so they gets bought by upper income people with disposable income. GST hits poor people the hardest by proportion – they have to buy food, electricity, phone, pay rates, school fees/uniforms/stationary.

        So, no, the Tobin tax and raising GST wouldn’t have the same effect.

        • dv 5.2.3.1

          Tobin tax would catch money sent out of NZ by bank transactions.

          • Antoine 5.2.3.1.1

            So it would be (among other things) a tax on all imports?

            Any such tax is going to go straight to end consumers, in any area where there is no domestic substitute.

            A.

            • One Anonymous Bloke 5.2.3.1.1.1

              If only there were a way to distinguish between imported goods and cash. Whatever shall we do?

              Antoine says it’s too hard. Just stop trying.

              • Antoine

                No, I say it’s hard, but we should keep trying, but we should be realistic about what should be achieved.

            • McFlock 5.2.3.1.1.2

              The nice thing about a Tobin tax and other financial transaction taxes is that the impact on end concumers is minimal – e.g. one figure thrown around years ago was 5c on every hundred dollars. So a $5k holiday or imported TV puts a mighty $2.50 burden on the end consumer, but an annual profit extraction of $500 million throws a quarter mil to the NZ people for their trouble.

        • Antoine 5.2.3.2

          @mpledger, I think what is being talked about here is not a Tobin tax _specifically on Apple_ but a general Tobin tax. That would affect people in general, not only buyers of Apple products.

          A.

      • UncookedSelachimorpha 5.2.4

        “Tobin taxes would get passed on to end consumers through price rises ”

        That argument can be used against all taxes. But we definitely need taxes.

        The key is what / who is the tax coming from, and what / who is benefiting. The Apple situation looks like very rich people are benefiting from NZ resources while contributing very little tax.

        • Antoine 5.2.4.1

          That’s right but I honestly think it’s pretty hard to hit Apple with a tax that actually ultimately gets paid by Apple shareholders (as opposed to consumers in NZ).

          A.

    • Antoine 5.3

      P.S. I don’t think there’s currently any NZ political party proposing a high rated Tobin tax. Certainly not Labour. The Greens support a lower rated Tobin tax – from their policy:

      Tobin tax: We would join the group of countries working to agree on a tax on international currency movements, to set up a fund to provide capital for poor countries to improve their social and environmental wellbeing. This would discourage currency speculation without being high enough to impede genuine trade.

      It’s not clear however, how much better off the NZ tax base would be, as a result of this.

      A.

  6. Infused 6

    They have no manufacturing here. Just like when we sell into the US or other countries. We pay no tax over there.

    Just be prepared for the same rules to start applying to NZ if something like this is implemented.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 6.1

      So we’d lose some of the tax NZ companies would otherwise have paid here, and gain extra revenue from Apple etc.

      That sounds like a pretty good deal: thanks for pointing it out.

      • Infused 6.1.1

        No, you’d end a competitive advantage NZ has and likely destroy more NZ jobs.

        I don’t care if this is implemented, I’m just pointing out it’s a double edge sword. We enjoy the same tax-free earnings overseas when companies have no offices/staff there and profit is reported in NZ.

        I believe it would also affect some free trade agreements.

        • One Anonymous Bloke 6.1.1.1

          …when companies have no offices/staff there…

          Are Apple in that category?

          If so, the Oravida employee who moonlights as the Revenue Minister hasn’t mentioned it.

          • Infused 6.1.1.1.1

            Yeah. They may have support staff here or whatever. But the products are being sold from overseas. So xxx company will be paying GST/Paye/whatever for whatever is in NZ.

            • NZJester 6.1.1.1.1.1

              The way Apple have set up most of their supply chain is that goods made in China are sold to their subsidiary in Ireland. The parent company and other countries Apple subsidiaries then buy from the Irish subsidiary at a heavily marked up price placing that profit as having been earned in Ireland. That is all on paper however as the goods never even leave China while all this paperwork of sales is happening. The goods, in fact, get shipped as direct from China as possible to the final country of sale. Stopping companies from claiming paper trail profits on the sales of goods in countries those goods have never even visited would cut down on a lot of this tax avoidance.

              • Infused

                If I do recall correctly, Apple have a massive research/manufacture plant in Ireland that employ a lot of people. I remember there was a massive shitfest between Ireland and the EU about the tax status of this.

                • NZJester

                  They shifted the on paper profits through Ireland to take advantage of the lower tax rate offered to them by the Irish government.
                  Except for the fact they get a lower tax rate there, the size of the markup added by their Irish subsidiary and the fact the supply chain goes through them instead of the main company is illogical.
                  It is all an on paper tax dodge method.

        • Sabine 6.1.1.2

          How many people does Apple employ in NZ and in what capacity?

          cheers.

          • Infused 6.1.1.2.1

            If it’s like Microsoft, it will all be sales/support staff. No idea how many.

          • Matthew Whitehead 6.1.1.2.2

            I had a quick check and they don’t make their number of employees directly available. I expect they have very few if any jobs in New Zealand directly, and simply have affiliated retail and repair businesses.

  7. adam 7

    Just another day, and just another example of why we can’t reform capitalism.

    When will the wets get that I wonder?

    • Nic the NZer 7.1

      The problem is here your criticizing a social system. If you have an alternative you not only need it to be better, but you need almost everyone to agree and understand that before it can become the new social order. So far better proposals appear to be flawed at step one, not step two of this process. That really only leaves gradual reform on the table.

      On the other hand its not capitalism which is compromised by lack of tax reform (its going to continue to function either way), its the political process which needs to deal with this. We need to insulate the political process from the pressures of extreme wealth.

  8. Barfly 8

    Well….do Samsung and Huawei and the others play ball by paying equitable taxes on their NZ sales?….If so well guys its pass a bill in parliament that APPLE phones cop a 20% retail surcharge on all goods sold here. Enormous message to the world play fair or get screwed in the market place by your competitors who do play fair and by doing so stay onside with the government

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