Excerpts of Apple Executives' Senate Committee Testimony on Tax Policy

Three Apple executives, CEO Tim Cook, CFO Peter Oppenheimer, and head of tax operations Phillip A. Bullock, appeared in front of the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigation earlier today, testifying about Apple's tax policies.

MacRumors has a rough transcript of the hearing, while the full event is viewable on C-SPAN. The full hearing was quite long, but here are some selected excerpts from our transcript.

Subcommittee
At the beginning of the hearing, Senators are allowed to make whatever opening statements they wish. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) gave a spirited defense of Apple, saying he was "offended" by the hearing.

"Tell me a politician who is up here and doesn't try to minimize his taxes… Tell me what Apple has done is illegal. I am offended by a government… that convenes a hearing to bully one of America's greatest success stories… If anyone should be on trial here, it should be Congress. I frankly think the committee should apologize to Apple."

Instead of Apple executives, we should have brought in a giant mirror. This problem is solely and completely caused by our tax code. This committee should look in the mirror. "I find it abominable."

We need to apologize to Apple, compliment them for the job creation they're doing, and get on with our job and redo the tax code.

Apple CEO Tim Cook and CFO Peter Oppenheimer also made opening statements. Cook noted that Apple is responsible for creating or supporting 600,000 jobs in the United States, and disclosed for the first time the the upcoming 'Made in the USA' line of Mac computers would be manufactured in Texas, with parts coming from a wide variety of states.

Much of the hearing would focus on Apple's use of Irish subsidiaries to avoid paying U.S. income taxes on revenue generated overseas from the sale of products. Senators had accused Apple of having "sham" corporate entities in Ireland that served no purpose except for avoiding tax liability. Hitting back at that accusation, Cook said that Apple's operations in Ireland were not shell corporations, but had actual functions.

Apple has real operations, in real places, with Apple employees selling real products to real customers. We not only comply with the laws but we comply with the spirit of the laws. We don't move intellectual property offshore and use it to sell products back on the U.S. Our foreign subsidiaries pull 70% of our cash because of the rapid growth of our international business. We use this money to finance construction of Apple retail stores around the world and fund production of products. It would be very expensive to bring that cash back to the United States. Unfortunately the tax code has not kept up with the digital age. We are handicapped in relation to our foreign competitors who do not have such constraints on the free movement of capital.

Senator John McCain (R-AZ), asked Cook whether Apple's actions overseas created an unfair advantage for them compared to smaller companies that operate strictly inside the US and cannot create such overseas entities.

McCain: If you look at the 35% [corporate] tax burden, that I'm sure we're in agreement is way too high, you said the purpose of AOI [an Irish subsidiary] is to ease administrative burdens. Isn't it obvious that you are not bearing the same tax burden as if you were bearing in the United States? This gives you some advantage over smaller companies located strictly in the US?

Cook: Sir, I have tremendous respect for you. I see this differently from you. Apple is earning these profits outside the US. By law and regulation, these are not taxable in the US. AOI invests that money overseas and then the interest from those investments is taxed in the US. I see this as a very complex topic and I'm glad we're having the discussion. Honestly, I don't see it as being unfair. I am not an unfair person. That's now who we are as a company and who I am as an individual. I do not see it that way.

In a moment of levity, the 76-year old McCain expressed a concern that many iPhone owners share: "I'm out of time, but why the hell do I have to keep updating the apps on my iPhone? Why can't you fix that?" Cook responded that Apple was "looking to do better all the time."

Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO), after praising Apple and its products, asked Cook about what's keeping Apple headquartered in the United States and why the company doesn't move overseas where the fiscal climate might be more favorable.

McCaskill: What would it cost to move out of California or move entirely to Ireland or China? What keeps you from moving on a cost analysis basis?

Cook: We're an American company. We're proud to be an American company. The vast amount of our R&D is in California. We love it there.

McCaskill: It's an intangible?

Cook: It's who we are as people. We're an American company whether we're selling in China or Egypt. We're an American company. It has never entered my mind that we would move to another country. It's beyond my imagination and I have a wild imagination. It's beyond it.

One of the major reasons for Cook's appearance in front of the committee was for Apple to put forth its own plan for corporate tax reform.

For one thing, Cook said the U.S. corporate income tax rate should be in the mid-20 percent range, while repatriation tax rates for income earned outside the U.S. should be somewhere in the single digits. Cook said that Congress should take a tip from Apple and focus on simplicity.

Apple has always believed in the simple, not the complex. You can see this in our products and in the way we conduct ourselves. It is in this spirit that we recommend a dramatic simplification of the corporate tax code. We make this recommendation with our eyes wide open, fully recognizing that this would likely result in an increase in Apple's U.S. taxes. We strongly believe that such reform would be fair to all taxpayers and would keep the U.S. competitive.

Finally, in his final line of questioning to Cook and Oppenheimer, Senator Levin went on the offensive, arguing that while Apple may not be violating the letter of the law, it was certainly violating the spirit of it.

By routing most foreign earnings to an Irish subsidiary -- a subsidiary that, in Levin's view, existed solely to avoid paying U.S. income tax -- Apple was doing a disservice to the American public by not paying their fair share.

Apple does pay U.S. income tax on earnings from the Americas (Mexico, Canada and Brazil most notably), but some two-thirds of its worldwide income eventually get routed to Irish subsidiaries.

Levin: And all the profits from Mexico and Canada and Argentina are taxed in the United States. But you made a decision to shift economic value overseas and the result is that most of your profits are not taxed. You're an American company. You're proud of it, we're proud of it. The result of these arrangements is that most of your profit is now in Ireland in these companies that don't exist. Of course we have to change this system. But to change it, we have to understand what is going on. What is going on is a huge loss of revenue to the United States. We've got these corporations that are able to shift profits to places where you don't pay income tax on it. We better understand that if we're going to correct it. That's our purpose here today. To shed a light on that. I hope that purpose has been achieved. We cannot continue a system where the company, a multinational company, is phenomenally as successful as yours and can make a decision, sitting down in 2008 as to where the profits will flow.

Where the R&D is 95% in the United States. You got R&D tax credits, all the benefits of living in this country. You're sitting there, unilaterally deciding whether to continue a system where profits are shifted to a place where they are not available to the American taxman. Everyone agrees that we need to change this system. In order for us to change this system, we've got to understand what is going on. You make a unilateral decision, three Apple employees in 2008, essentially decided where these profits will be taxed or not taxed. It's not right. That is not right. To leave that decision, it seems to me, the way it is decided so unilaterally, that a company can shift its value to a tax haven -- that's what Ireland is -- I know its your intention and I applaud your view. I know its not easy to come in front of the spotlight. It's important for us to write the laws. You agreed Mr. Cook that we need to rewrite these laws. Thank you for coming.

Following the testimony of Apple's executives, representatives from the US Treasury and the IRS appeared and largely confirmed that Apple's activities appeared to be entirely legal.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the comment thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All MacRumors forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Top Rated Comments

wiz329 Avatar
103 months ago
I'm sick and tired of Apple being unresponsive and inconsiderate when it comes to taxes.

Because you obviously do all you can to maximize your tax burden.
Score: 79 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Will do good Avatar
103 months ago
So because someone creates jobs; they don't have to pay taxes?

Did they break any laws? No.
Score: 67 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Doctor Q Avatar
103 months ago
The solution is clear: Put Jonathan Ive in charge of redesigning the tax code.
Score: 61 Votes (Like | Disagree)
HyperX13 Avatar
103 months ago
Way to go Rand Paul! Liberals and Democrats live in la la land and have no understanding how business and job creation work.

Apple is a success story!
Score: 57 Votes (Like | Disagree)
rdowns Avatar
103 months ago
Levin and McCain should be embarrassed for that sham of a hearing. They picked on Apple because they knew the cameras would follow. They should have heard from GE, Exxon Mobil and Wall Street.

I'm sick and tired of Apple being unresponsive and inconsiderate when it comes to taxes.

Oh, Will. How do you manage to get the first comment bashing Apple is so many threads?
Score: 55 Votes (Like | Disagree)
edk99 Avatar
103 months ago
So because someone creates jobs; they don't have to pay taxes?
They paid over 6 BILLION in taxes in 2012. How much did you pay?
Score: 35 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

samsung experience 1

Samsung's 'iTest' Lets You Try a Galaxy Device on Your iPhone

Thursday April 8, 2021 12:42 pm PDT by
Samsung has launched "iTest," an interactive website experience that's designed to allow iPhone users to test out Android on a Galaxy device, or "sample the other side," as Samsung puts it. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. The iTest website is being advertised in New Zealand, according to a MacRumors reader who came across the feature. Visiting the iTest website on...
pixel watch prosser leak

Google Pixel Watch Allegedly Leaks with Circular Design, Rumored to Launch in October

Monday April 12, 2021 2:49 am PDT by
Renders of Google's first smartwatch, codenamed "Rohan," have been shared by Jon Prosser, showing that Google plans to adopt a circular design for its flagship wearable watch. Prosser shared the renders in an episode of his YouTube show "Front Page Tech," in which he claims they were made based on marketing material he had seen from a source within Google. The renders show that the Pixel...
AppleTV and HomePod Feature

Bloomberg: Apple Working on New Apple TV With Integrated HomePod Speaker and FaceTime Camera

Monday April 12, 2021 3:32 am PDT by
Apple is working on a combined Apple TV with HomePod speaker that has a camera for video calls through a connected television set, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. From the report: The company is working on a product that would combine an Apple TV set-top box with a HomePod speaker and include a camera for video conferencing through a connected TV and other smart-home functions,...
nba tracking prompt orange

Two-Thirds of iPhone Users Expected to Block Ad Tracking

Friday April 9, 2021 7:19 am PDT by
As many as 68 percent of iPhone users are expected to deny advertisers permission to track them thanks to Apple's App Tracking Transparency feature, in what is beginning to look like a significant blow to the advertising industry (via AdWeek). With the launch of iOS 14.5, apps will have to receive explicit user permission before accessing an iPhone's advertising identifier or IDFA, which is...
fake airpods 3

Counterfeit 'AirPods 3' Hit the Market Prior to Official Announcement

Friday April 9, 2021 2:45 am PDT by
Apple is expected to launch the third iteration of AirPods in the third quarter of this year. Rumors and reports suggest the new AirPods will feature an updated design more in line with the AirPods Pro, but lacking in "Pro" features such as active noise cancellation. Despite AirPods 3 not yet being officially announced by Apple, counterfeit products of the unreleased earbuds have already hit ...
Top Stories 56 Feature

Top Stories: 'Find My' Expansion, iPhone 13 Pro Mockup, Largest-Ever iMac?

Saturday April 10, 2021 6:00 am PDT by
Apple's AirTags may still be nowhere to be seen nearly two years after signs of them were first discovered, but Apple this week launched its Find My network accessory program that will let third-party devices integrate with the Find My app on Apple's platforms to make it easy to keep track of your items. This week also saw fresh rumors about the upcoming "iPhone 13" and new iMacs, while...
ehric

iPhone 12 Mini Missing From Top 5 Best Selling Smartphone List of January 2021

Friday April 9, 2021 4:58 am PDT by
According to market data compiled by Counterpoint Research, Apple's smallest iPhone since the 2016 iPhone SE, the iPhone 12 mini, struggled to obtain a spot in the top five list of best-selling smartphones in January of this year. According to the market data, the iPhone 12 mini came in eighth place for the best-selling smartphone worldwide in the first month of the year. However, the iPhone ...
sonny 2021 ipad mini pro dummies

Leaked Dummy Units Show iPad Mini 6 With Thick Bezels and Home Button, New iPad Pro Models

Thursday April 8, 2021 2:11 am PDT by
Rumors suggest Apple will release refreshed versions of the iPad mini and iPad Pro models in the first half of this year, potentially as soon as this month, and a new leak today has provided us with a possible preview of what to expect in terms of the devices' overall design and camera prospects. Tech leaker and Apple blogger Sonny Dickson this morning shared images on Twitter showing dummy ...
Google maps feaure green

Google Maps App for iOS Finally Updated After Four Months

Monday April 12, 2021 10:03 am PDT by
Following the completed rollout of App Privacy labels for its App Store apps, Google today updated the Google Maps app for the first time in four months. Apple in December began requiring all new app submissions and app updates to include App Privacy labels, detailing the data that is collected by the app so consumers know what they're sharing. Google didn't begin implementing App Privacy ...
epic iap feature 3

Tim Cook Says App Store Would Become a 'Flea Market' if Third-Party Payment Systems Were Allowed

Monday April 12, 2021 9:41 am PDT by
In a recent interview with the Toronto Star, Apple CEO Tim Cook spoke about a wide variety of topics, ranging from App Tracking Transparency to Apple's ongoing legal battle over App Store policies with Fortnite creator Epic Games. Notably, Cook said that Epic Games' desire for Apple to let developers offer their own payment systems in apps "would make the App Store a flea market":At the...