I would say that HN readers and contributors are among the smartest people on the web; they are the intellectuals. So
please pardon my "rantiness" when I say that it is the responsibility of intellectuals to facilitate growth in their communities. And in this cyber-cosmopolitan age it becomes important to understand where the most efficient contributions to growth are going to take place. After all, life is infinitely finite. When you're 6 feet under the only things that survive are your genetic progeny and your intellectual progeny. Favouring conservative taxation in favour of purported "individualism" is not only selfish, but highly inefficient. Charities and government subsidies do not fill the voids required by collective resource allocation. To be more concrete: you can't build a socioeconomic infrastructure on top of capitalism. You have to do it the other way around.
Philanthropy isn't as widespread in Europe as it is in North America. That's because European taxation models are such that there is a "safety net" (one which is akin to our emergency response system, but more robust and covering more edge-cases).
Pardon my frustrated response, but I just don't think HN is on the same page when it comes to the benefits of democratic "socialism".
If you want to defend taxation, defend the things it actually pays for: redistribution from the young to the old and the military (redistribution from workers to non-workers is a distant third).
You can argue the US military gets too much money, sure, but looking at cultural and voting patterns, I really don't think that's why people don't like to pay taxes.
Obviously public money has to be spent in good ways, but let's not misrepresent all government being about "military and pensions".
Could you explain what you are talking about here? Will the geriatric hordes smash their walkers through the glass of Apple's cube stores if they don't receive trillions in tribute?
If that family was made of civil servants or (god forbid) military personnel, you'll also have a strong feeling of resentment-fuelled rage as a bonus.
There's some value in pooling it like that, I suppose, but let's not kid ourselves. Social Security is a transfer payment system, not a retirement savings program, which is what it was sold to people as.
This is why the elderly come out in droves on election day. They can't trust the young'uns.
But HN readers are almost exclusively rich white American males. They've never had any adverse experiences in their lives. They've never been frisked by the police; they've never gone hungry for even one meal; they borrowed money from their parents to get started; their parents put them through college.
Having no experience of adversity is proven to produce feelings of excessive competence/arrogance in people. And that's pretty much what you see here.
Very few of them have any sense of the society that they are coasting on top of, nor does telling them that they are one injury from abject poverty make any difference. They don't really believe it, not in their hearts.
So, sorry, but you aren't going to get a lot of sensible responses about taxation here. They're incapable of it.
Where are you getting all this from?
"nor does telling them that they are one injury from abject poverty make any difference"
That seems to contradict this: "rich white American males.....they borrowed money from their parents to get started
A lot of HN'ers either work in startups or founded one themselves. I'd say that will put them through enough adverse experience to know what they're talking about.
As the diagram has evolved they added a small total budget thing to bottom, but most people don't realize what it means.
- Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations
Now, there's a case to be made that such corruption is inevitable, that power will always overwhelm the public good, and that distributed self-governance simply can't work. I think that view is merely born out of cynicism and a feeling of powerlessness, and it betrays a lack of imagination. If the enlightenment revolutionaries had thought that way, we'd likely still have nobles and kings.
Maybe some European countries do a better job of spending money, but we aren't Europe. Until our governments demonstrate they can spend money well it's good for society for businesses to keep as much as they legally can.
Edit: "more people" --> "people more"
Government is just a business model, when it comes right down to it that's what it reduces to. It doesn't magically have the ability to ignore the rules of economics or spend infinitely without consequence.
Anything provided by the government is purchased just as surely as you had purchased it from private enterprise. Effectively the only difference is you do not have a choice as to what is purchased, or how much it costs you.
Saying that modern democratic socialism is a hedge against entrenched control by special interests is so utterly divorced from reality I'm wondering whether this is actually a really well spoken troll? Look at the tax practices of general electric or hell, even those discussed in TFA and tell me that it's government that controls the corporations, and not the other way around.
Remember, government is just another business model.
Western governments are trapped by politcical stalemates and an underlying shift of economic power, and find they cannot / darent risk change in flawed fundamental policy no matter who is in power.
no wonder many on HN support Apple in paying less tax, if you don't think the government will spend it wisely even of you vote for some other guy.
So Ron Paul starts to look like a clear thinker
But is there really an option. Can we expect to do away with vast amounts of government and find it works better?
Because that is a one time experiment.
Yes, taxation is necessary. Or, perhaps I should say: Some means to pay for the basics of government is necessary. That doesn't necessarily mean taxation.
The explosion of government programs has crated a mess that is hard to untangle. If we want to survive as a nation with a decent standard of living we must fix this problem.
Your dollars are being devoted in huge proportions to the support of failed programs, unions, government workers and pensions. Period. It is one thing to want to remain true to an ideology and quite another to be able to pull out paper and pencil and engage in basic arithmetic. This problem does not require calculus in order to understand.
Regarding the HN audience. I am not sure that one can pass opinion based on the few that choose to be vocal and post. My experience is that most online communities are like icebergs: The bulk of the audience is never visible. Be careful about forming opinion based on the 10% that is above water.
Understand that abuses by government, misapplication of taxes, and regulatory capture are simply a historical and current fact.
There's limited benefit to throwing good money in a hole when only a few pieces of it will catch on something useful.
Well said. I have never really understood why so many people seem to think it has to be all or nothing when it comes to privatisation. Can't things be taken on a case by case basis? When I hear news about the US health care system, I often shake my head in disbelief.
Contrary to apparently popular belief, anything other than full-tilt, "privitise all the things" does not necessarily equal communism.
Ah yes, the classic tiny list meant to justify taking $6 trillion per year out of the economy in the form of taxation.
Roads? Laughable. Let's run that budget up against SS / Medicare / Military, and see where our taxes are really spent.
Education? Oh my, yes, the government is doing such a stellar job inflating the cost of education to infinity, while results get worse and worse.
Emergency services? The ones that people are increasingly having to pay extra fees just to use?
Special interests already control the items you listed. In case you missed that whole Federal unions thing; or the protected road workers unions that typically dominate at the state level. Or the teachers unions that protect their own to the harm of students, which is why we spend so much more than anybody else and get such radically worse results.
Government services in the US are about as far away from being in your hands of control as they could get. Which is why the TSA gets away with such extreme abuse, or why our infrastructure is collapsing despite the government having doubled in size in the last 13 years.
Medicare is actually a benefit to corporations. Corporations shifted retiree benefits (health care among such benefits) to Social Security, 401(k), and Medicare. Without Medicare worker would demand more money. Besides, it is unseemly for a country as rich as the U.S. to have millions of uninsurable people dying prematurely. Millions more than it currenlty has, that is.
Your statements about unions are without a basis is fact. It is quite obvious that labor, overall, has very little power in the country. Furthemore a majority of non-defense workers for the U.S. government are contractors. We live in an environment of regulatory capture. At the very minimum, the large corporations ought to at least pay to keep the system that they've captured.
There's no such thing as "vesting" wrt Social Security. All benefits are at the whim of Congress. Yes, including those being paid now.
Congress could decide tomorrow to divert all SS payouts to hookers and blow and retirees would have no legal recourse. (They could, of course, vote out incumbents in the next election, but that's no guarantee that the new rascals would restore the benefits.)
> Besides, it is unseemly for a country as rich as the U.S. to have millions of uninsurable people dying prematurely.
The US doesn't have "millions of uninsured dying prematurely". The available research suggests that insurance improves quality of life but doesn't have much effect on life-span. (The error bar goes from "no effect" to "there seems to be a very small effect".)
Congress could decide tomorrow to divert all SS payouts to hookers and blow and retirees would have no legal recourse.
You don't understand the role the judicial branch plays in the U.S. if you think this is true.
It's clear that millions of peoples' lives are adversely affected by lack of access to health coverage. I should have phrased my statement differently. As it is, it is incorrect. It is true to say that at present the situation is unseemly (and immoral).
> You don't understand the role the judicial branch plays in the U.S. if you think this is true.
Are you suggesting that there's some law that gives SS recipients a claim on payouts or a constitutional provision?
In the case of "a law", theu can be repealed by Congress and the judiciary won't stop (and shouldn't) stop them.
If you're suggesting a constitutional provision, precisely which provision do you think guarantees SS "rights"?
For example, http://www.ssa.gov/estimator/ says "Your estimated benefits are based on current law. The law governing benefit amounts may change because, by 2033, the payroll taxes collected will be enough to pay only about 75 cents for each dollar of scheduled benefits."
> It's clear that millions of peoples' lives are adversely affected by lack of access to health coverage.
Not in the US. They have health coverage. What they don't have is insurance.
Yes, there are limits on the "free" coverage in the US. Surely you don't believe that any place else is different.
This is a fringe viewpoint at best. With our current policies, the Congressional Budget Office predicts SS will become completely insolvent between 2036 and 2038 (p. 54 of http://cbo.gov/sites/default/files/cbofiles/attachments/06-2...). The "easy" fix will require significant payroll tax increases, which seems politically unlikely considering we just REDUCED the FICA tax by 2%.
Under its extended-baseline scenario, CBO estimates that over the next 75 years, the program has an actuarial shortfall equal to 1.6 percent of taxable payroll, or
0.6 percent of GDP (see Table 4-1). Thus, to bring the program into actuarial balance through 2085, payroll taxes could be increased immediately by 1.6 percent of taxable payroll and kept at that higher rate, or scheduled benefits could be reduced by an equivalent amount.
The fix is easy (not taking into account the Republican party's irrational view on tax increases). Repeal the tax cut. And not increasing taxes leaves a small actuarial imbalance.
- The government isn't inflating the cost of education. Education itself is. The 'technical' courses are requiring more and more expensive equipment and buildings. Combine this with the drop in funding from state governments and that is why tuition costs are increasing. It isn't just specific to the US but is happening worldwide.
- Education in the US definitely needs work but it is not radically worse than the rest of the world. The biggest problem with education isn't with the teachers it's with the general attitude of Americans. Frankly it sucks. There is an anti-intellectual, anti-work streak that doesn't in many other countries. People overwhelmingly PREFER university sports over university science achievements. So blaming teachers and teachers unions is misguided.
- TSA policies are similar to what exists elsewhere in the world so it isn't a US government issue. It is an airport safety issue.
- Of course infrastructure in the US needs work. But again the hold up seems to be with the politicians. How about elect someone else ?
Well, there is a semi-legitimate argument that the government making it easy to borrow large sums of money is encouraging price increases in higher education, especially in for-profit higher education where most of the students are borrowing the entire cost of their education.
The government is massively inflating the cost of education. They back student loans with an unlimited supply of printed currency, and increase the backing every year, making it possible for the universities to conspire to increase costs. Which explains how EDU costs have continued to skyrocket through a intense recessionary period.
The TSA is a US Government issue. It is not similar to what exists elsewhere, unless you're talking about countries dominated by abusive police services. In my observation, Europeans are typically shocked at the abuse and ridiculous hoops Americans now jump through just to fly.
Infrastructure in the US needs work? We had 22 major power outages in 1992. We had 344 in 2011. Such has increased on average every year for 20 years. It doesn't need work, it's collapsing due to the misappropriation of tax funds. Or call it what it really is, theft by taxation and standard issue political lies.
- I am European. I fly 20 times a year. It is exactly what exists elsewhere. Or did you forget that it was the Netherlands that first introduced those scanners ?
- And you would have the money for infrastructure if you didn't go into two wars. So it seems the issue isn't taxation but how it is being spent. Which is an issue for the people who voted them in. You.
Part of the US competitive advantage during the XX century was a first-class air transportation network which was fast and flexible, spreading commerce and culture quickly and cheaply across a whole continent. As you noticed, now it's pretty much on par with what you'll find in that mess of balcanized frontiers and bureaucracy that is our beloved Europe. For them, it's a huge step back.
There is a broader question of how the US should structure corporate taxes, but demonizing individual corporations for how they follow the crazy rules is a silly thing. Perhaps useful to further the conversation, but not really a reflection on ethics.
I personally prefer more systems-centric journalism myself, which focuses on how economics/law/etc. interacts rather than tracing some particular person/company/story, but it rarely appears outside of specialist journals. Even in the Valley, journalists trace how the startup/technology ecosystem works by weaving tales of specific founders and startups that they hope illustrate broader principles, instead of describing those broader principles directly.
If you really look around you'll quickly learned that everything is taxed. Everything. Politicians have gotten very good at finding all sorts of areas where they can insert a probe and extract "blood". From gasoline to telephones, communications, dogs, cars, food, air travel, tobacco, etc. Here's one attempt at a list:
Here in California it is not uncommon to hear of more hair-brained schemes to levy taxes on more things. A little-bit here and a little-bit there and politicians have collect billions to keep their gravy train going.
Regardless of whether we are talking about personal or corporate taxes, or taxes in general, it is important to always keep in mind what the "mission statement" might be for taxes. Lately the lines on this have blurred.
In general terms taxes should be used to run the government, military and reasonable social services (the last one being debatable).
Lately, at least in California and other similarly-afflicted states, a huge percentage of taxes are being dedicated to supporting a ridiculous pension infrastructure and a bloated government and public employee sector. Tax increases are being proposed with the sole purpose of finding funding for union pensions. We, then, exist to ensure that the union "class" gets to live happily every-after with their wonderful lifetime pensions and healthcare. This is beyond wrong. This is criminal.
I don't have a problem with the idea of questioning if large companies are paying what they are legally supposed to. At the same time, the system should also demand that government be responsible and not exist to create and maintain their own ecosystem through the abuse of taxation. Name one government entity that, over the last few years, has put forth cuts and savings measures on par with families and businesses across this nation. Exactly.
Watch closely what is happening with the post office. Here's a clear case of a government entity that should start to see massive cuts and reorganization. What do you want to bet that we carry these people on our taxes for the rest of our lives? So, rather than being able to devote our money to the furthering of our own kids and culture we are obligated, through taxation, to support useless hordes of government employees. This isn't going to end well.
The Cali budget crisis was caused by a decrease in revenue. Let me repeat that. Decrease.
Similarly, federal spending on domestic discretionary (what you're complaining about) has been flat or almost-flat for a decade, while spending on defense/security has been skyrocketing.
Lastly, if you want to reduce government spending on employee benefits, the first, second and third things you should think about are healthcare reform, not pensions. Healthcare costs are and have been inflating a lot faster than any other cost-of-living cost. Compound 15% over 10 years and see where that gets you.
You'll see that many of the top paid state employees are doctors, or policemen/firefighters who get paid a ton of overtime.
But you'll also notice things like the director of IT for Alameda County was paid 430,312 with a 266,760 base salary. Where as the direct of IT for San Mateo country had a base salary of 175,775 and had pay around to 330K. Which is probably market for someone like that in the Bay area, but sure seems a lot for a government position.
I think it is reasonable that if salaries go up in a good year, that salaries should go down in a bad year. I'd be interested in seeing the change in government employee pay over time relative to tax revenue.
And I'm sure there are plenty of idiots who got entrenched and earn more than they're worth, but that's the same in any large bureaucratic org, public or private.
The cited Wikipedia article says that, but it also says:
"Another source has been the continuous growth in salaries and benefits of state employees during economic boom times, some of which were lobbied by trade unions."
Note also that the decrease in revenue was due to falling incomes as a result of the recession, not falling rates. Spending was on an unsustainable path based on assuming that boom times would last forever.
On one side, you have a private sector that is dramatically widening the income gap thanks to globalization processes and technological advances that lower expenses, increase productivity and maximize revenue. On the other, you have a public sector that basically cannot compete for talent unless they try to align to private-sector pay levels, because in a post-Soviet "capitalism-uber-alles" world, public office does not grant much social status in itself. It's a vicious circle: the more we disparage civil servants, the less people are attracted to those jobs, the more you have to pay for lower-quality applicants. The same goes for cutting entitlements, by the way.
If you can't make public office appealing in itself, you have to pay civil servants in line with any other similar job, or suffer from corruption and "revolving door" effects with a private sector they're supposed to effectively rein in.
This applies even to the most high-profile positions (presidents, senators etc). Remuneration levels for US presidents or British Prime Ministers, for example, are so ridiculously low in real terms, that the office is basically seen by most career politicians as an introduction to the moneyed "conference-speech" circuit, or as a past-time for millionaires. It also makes them ripe for corruption: when somebody earning £ 150k per year has to deal with multi-billionaires, it's easy to predict how it will end.
Google 2.4% Rate Shows How $60 Billion Lost to Tax Loopholes
Google Inc. cut its taxes by $3.1 billion in the last three years using a technique that moves most of its foreign profits through Ireland and the Netherlands to Bermuda.
Medicare is the big problem. And the problem is costs. The government's on the hook for the old, the poor, and the too sick to get insurance, and like I said, insurance and provider costs have been increasing by 15% a year or so. We need a better system of healthcare regardless of how the accounting is done.
Medicare is the big problem. And the problem is costs.
Agreed. More specifically, the problem is aging. We should do something about that.
America has at least $100 trillion in entitlement liabilities that can never be paid for under any circumstances. Which is why the Fed has begun to monetize as much of it away as they can without sparking massive inflation.
That supposed point or two of adjustment is a purely fraudulent number from make-believe-land. SS is already bleeding out right now, prior to full scale boomer retirement. All of their accounting lies are premised on the Federal Reserve destroying your standard of living for the next 50 years to pay for the massive red ink that boomers are going to generate in SS.
Government cannot and should not exist in isolation of reality. In this case, a reduction in tax revenue was a result of a reality that caused catastrophic damage to the lives of millions of Americans and destroyed businesses far and wide. Not so if you were in government. In that case you got to live inside this protected environment at the expense of all of those who were suffering on the outside. Notice how the article you point to chronicles all of the efforts to raise tax revenue in a variety of creative ways.
What is conspicuous due to its absence are the cuts. No talk about cuts. Nobody in government ever gets fired or laid-off. Why?
If I have a business and times are tough I cut my spending. I might move t cut marketing. Maybe even move my operation to a cheaper location. Downsize my building. Find ways to become more efficient. And, yes, eventually, if there are not other options and sales are down, I have to lay off employees.
At the personal level, if a member of the family looses her job or is hit with a reduction in income you take the same kinds of steps to achieve fiscal balance: No more Starbucks; Cheaper (or no) satellite TV plan; No more dining out; Rent movies instead of going to the theater; more camping, less hotel vacations; etc.
This isn't an academic exercise for me. I've lived this. I've had to live through economic difficulties and have had to make the tough choice to let valuable people go in order to ensure the survival of my businesses. I've had to make serious personal adjustments in order to adapt to new economic conditions. You do what you have to do and come out the other end stronger and, what's more important, alive to continue moving forward.
There's nothing I detest more than the fact that we have allowed government to exist in nearly absolute isolation of our realities. They are supposed to work for us. The reality is that we work for them. That is fundamentally wrong.
The talk in Sacramento (and D.C.) should never be about raising revenue but rather about optimizing the available revenue and giving us the most for our money. And, yes, this should also mean adapting to economic conditions; adjusting workforce size accordingly; becoming more efficient; not entering into criminal contracts with unions; not spending more than is available --ever-- and, in general, living by the same rules everyone else has to live by.
The California problem isn't a reduction in revenue. It is the combination of that along with the inflexibility of government rules, services and systems to adapt. There's more than one variable in this equation, it can't always be "revenue, revenue, revenue".
Oh, please. Public-sector employees make on average less than their private-sector counterparts, even taking into account fairly-negotiated benefits.
It boggles the mind how you can be such a misanthrope as to believe that teachers' healthcare coverage is a scourge on our society and "criminal". What's criminal is that the richest country on earth cannot educate its children or provide for the health of its citizenry.
Our college students now carry one trillion in debt, more than all credit card debt in America. That debt went to pay for university facilities and extraordinary teacher benefits and salaries. Meanwhile 50% of graduating students can't find a job.
There's only one place for the blame to go, unless you intend to blame the students. The teachers and their unions have been given resources that other first world nations would kill to have.
But even unfunded, the USPS must operate under a strict legal framework requiring them to keep offices open and uphold a large pension program. Imagine needing to go before congress anytime you want to adapt your business.
Why is the transfer of wealth from densely populated areas to rural ones considered good? Should we let the real costs shine through so people can make the best economic decisions?
Small companies, and individuals without clever accountants, miss out on those benefits.
Since companies benefit from the advantages of the nation state in which they're based (rule of law, policing (often protecting their products) roads, etc etc) they should make an effort to pay reasonable taxes.
At the end of the day, we've got bills to pay, and any deviation from "everyone pays a fair share" should have the burden of proving it's worth it.
So how are they not paying their "fair share"? Perhaps you should define what you mean by "fair share".
As far as what they consume, they're based in the US, with the best technical workforce in the world. Everything about Apple is an only-in-America story. Turning around and saying "Oh, all we consume is some police protection" is pretty dishonest in view of that. Like they'd be fine if you transported the campus to Sierra Leone and hired good security? The only other countries developed enough to have conceivably yielded an Apple all levy higher taxes than us (VAT vs corporate income notwithstanding), and a higher regulatory burden. "Fair share" isn't so much to ask for, when you look at the competition in terms of countries.
Note that the people who own Apple generally do pay a similar percentage - some of it in the form of corporate income, some of it as cap gains.
As far as what they consume, they're based in the US, with the best technical workforce in the world.
I'd bet good money that Apple's workforce is received a disproportionate amount of education outside the US. For example, the US government didn't educate Jonathan Ive. Besides which, the workforce was already charged for that and Apple is paying a wage premium to compensate for it.
Since you seem to believe Apple consumes more than just police protection, please be specific about what you think they consume. Which of the major services do you believe enabled Apple to be an "only-in-America" story? Was it redistribution from the young to the old, or was it the war on Iraqis?
On your side of the argument, if you say "Hey, Apple doesn't really gain anything from the wars we're fighting or the expanded security state", I'd agree and include myself in there as well. Others might disagree. But we're all in it together on the costs for that stuff, that's what being part of the same country means.
That is so ridiculous. Maybe you need to take a deeper look at a Mac and see where much of that innovation comes from.
If you design in California, produce in China and sell in Europe, you shouldn't be allowed to shelter your profits in Caribbean tax havens instead of giving back to the societies that made you successful in the first place. We need better treaties among countries to adequately tax large capital movements across the world.
Note how the Chinese try to sidestep the problem by heavily restricting capital flow in exit. This has never been a viable policy for capital-rich countries with saturated markets, of course; but as we've been seeing since 2008, US and EU markets are not as capital-rich as we thought, after all. This doesn't mean that we should blindly follow Chinese policies, of course, but maybe a degree of restriction should be introduced.
Correct, but you should also consider that creating a company creating jobs also adds another tax payer to the economy.
> should have the burden of proving it's worth it.
That is actually the whole point. The impact of consumption (purchasing power) will over time (if increasing) make it reasonable for companies who experiences these demands, to hire more employees to follow. How does that deviate from the idea of lowering tax so that the companies have incentives to create these jobs in the first place?
Imagine the tax is twice as high (which, in most countries, is equal to the max taxation of indivduals). If that increase causes the company to only hire one (or none) employees, how would that be benificial?
The new jobs would provide more tax revenue to the government, keeping in mind there's still the tax which the company pays, and the two tax filings by the job holders.
But to your point, let's say both coorporations and individuals pay the low income tax. I'll try to say this the least synical way I can: there is a trade off between working and leisure. People (in general) would work less, which is not desirable if you're trying to maximize tax revenue.
Overall, what I'm trying to convey is that consumption and company tax rates are combined means to a goal - tax revenue.
What I question in your post is how stimulated demand creates more jobs if there's a shortage of employees due to people not needing to work as much.
That means they gave that money to someone else, and perhaps they are hiring, or perhaps they in turn invested it again.
"The cash probably goes somewhere" isn't that convincing. I'm not saying that companies should hire with extra cash if they don't need the employees. That would be a bad business decision. I'm just saying that "cash sitting on the sidelines = probably employment somewhere" isn't a great justification for them paying less taxes than I do. I work too, you know.
All citizens, all parties, play under the same set of rules.
If you start playing favorites with the poor or some depressed economic sector, it simply opens the door for everybody else to play the game and game the system.
Coupled with the "closing loopholes" dog-whistle--to reasonable people who have not ceded their thinking to Ayn Rand, this should not be in the same statement as anything related to "lower taxes"--and I have a great deal of trouble finding a good-faith reason to think better of you than "disingenuous."
The more relevant part of their statement is "Apple has conducted all of its business with the highest of ethical standards, complying with applicable laws and accounting rules." That's their actual response, the rest is just decoration.
I also like the irony (though to be fair you can see why they said it) of saying "We have contributed to many charitable causes but have never sought publicity for doing so"... in a press release.
"So I'm not going to pay more than I'm legally required to". I have no problem with that.
"...because we're super rich and can hire ultra clever accountants to abuse loopholes in your tax laws that were put in place by politicians paid by other super rich corporations specifically to get away with paying less taxes thereby grossly violating the trust of the American public and the spirit of taxation in general."
Are you still ok with that?
No one wants to pay extra tax, not even those people who want higher taxes. Case in point, how much extra tax did you pay last year? They pay what they are required by law.
Higher tax advocates end up wanting to see insane basic rates and those that want lower taxes propose exemptions. This is the fundamental negotiation that occurs when politicians from both sides of the table sit down.
The idea is to satisfy those that want to see high marginal rates and those that don't want to pay that much tax. Hightax Hilda gets to go back to her constituents and say "Look we have a 35% tax on corporations". Lowtax Lenny gets to go back to his constituents and say "Look you're not going to pay very much tax as long as you hire some lawyers and accountants."
If Apple got to set the tax code it would probably be a lower rate that was simpler to administer so they didn't have to hire so many lawyers and accountants.
The opinion question is whether or not that's a moral job. Either way, it's still the job.
Apple pays billions in taxes, pays dividends to shareholders, employs thousands, etc. if you're not happy with that, maybe you should move to countries with higher corporate tax rates, i'm sure they have a better/bigger economy than the US (they don't, take a good guess why.).
The real issue is that most people think they are legally bound to always make the optimal financial move even if that means being immoral or unethical. Even worse is that many people think that doing so has a certain morality of its own, which IMO is completely, bizarro, nuts.
Apple pays billions in taxes, will pay billions in dividends to shareholders (which goes to retirement/pension funds, universities, charities, etc.), employs thousands (the employees pay taxes), donates to charity, etc. They created an Apple ecosystem that spurred thousands of developers and start-ups to build apps, etc. which in turn created more jobs, taxes, etc.
Are those not ethical or moral to you?
Equally, I think it's fairly naive to expect corporations to be moral, since there's very little incentive for them to be so - I merely respect those that are more.
morality is not defined by how much taxes you pay the government.
The company that pays less taxes and returns the money to the shareholders,creates jobs, donates to charity, etc. or big government that waste tax payers money by spending it on useless government programs and wars?
Government is part of (and, indeed, defined by) society. I can only imagine that your views on the uselessness of government programs are shaped by the US' admittedly poor example, but that doesn't mean that governments are inherently incapable.
I don't think that's currently true, at least not if you're talking about the top rates that profitable companies pay. Wikipedia says the top corporate tax rate in Belgium is 33.99% and the top federal corporate rate in the US is 38%.
Corporate tax rates have generally declined over time to where the US rate is now one of the highest in the developed world. (Japan beats us by a bit - their top rate is 40%. Most of Europe does not.)
If so. Then you are exploiting a "loophole" and are a hypocrite.
If you're curious, I'm sure the list is available in their filings somewhere.
Same applies here. Paying less tax in this way is something every multi-national company does and yet the NYT has once again decided to focus on Apple. Let me be clear, I'm not an Apple 'fanboy'. I think if the NYT actually cared about these 'issues' they would expose all the bad actors. They're just trying to get page views.
And honestly, this is not even a story. Apple are acting within the law, trying to maximise their profits. They sell their products worldwide and can take advantage of that to pay less tax.
Also, the "within the law" argument has a bit less weight when you operate at this level. They have a lot of power to affect the law and its interpretation. I think it's probably impossible or at least not feasible to make laws that force a company like Apple to pay "normal" taxes for some definition of normal, simply because it's an international issue. But that makes an article like this even more relevant because it allows consumers to take this into account when they choose which product to buy.
That's the problem though. Consumers will take this into account. But because the article only focussed on one company they will just end up buying from another company doing the exact same thing.
Funny that they recognize in the response that they are primarily an US-based company, with US labour educated in the country, but instead want to pay Irish taxes. Or maybe they do get 30% of their worldwide profits from Ireland, who knows...
I don’t think it’s a problem when Apple decides not to move money made overseas back to the US. That's their decision and there is nothing shady about it either way. I can't think of any moral objections.
Purposefully moving money somewhere in order to avoid taxes, however, could be if not a legal at least a moral problem.
I don't think this is a problem either, unless they lobby themselves a holiday under which they can move it back on the cheap. Which is something they have been trying to do for a while now (to be fair, Google, Cisco and others have been pushing for this with them, so it isn't just Apple).
Ireland is the EMEIA headquarters for Apple and yes they do get more then 30% of their worldwide profits from Europe.
Apple includes "income taxes withheld on employee stock gains" in "Apple's" tax payments. But aren't these employees' income tax, not Apple's? Is this another instance of creative accounting?
Sure, Apple can claim that they helped create that income, just like they helped create the job. But I'm talking specifically about their claim that they are a "top payer of U.S. income tax" because of their employees' tax obligations.
Personally I strive to pay as little tax as possible as well. I can't blame businesses for trying the same.
"Braeburn is a variety of apple that is simultaneously sweet and tart."
"Baldwin apples are known for their hardiness while traveling."
Moreover, applying taxes to gross sales rather than profits eliminates some profitable business models. Suppose I can hire someone for $50 to take $49 of lumber and build $100 of furniture. I make $1 of profits and even if I pay 50% tax on my profits, everybody is still happy. But if you tax revenues, unless your tax rate is less than 1% I'll be going out of business -- at which point there is less government revenue, less value created, and Joe Carpenter has lost his job.
If I buy Lumber with a Sales Tax of $X and Sell Furniture with a higher sales tax of $Y, then I send the $Y-X in Sales Tax to the Government. (At least -- that's essentially how the GST works in Australia).
BigCoRetail has better accountants and can deal with the processing more -- but the ultimate tax collected is the same.
It doesn't solve the "not profitable to hire someone to produce stuff" problem unless you count employee wages as inputs though.
"among the top payers" in absolute terms, right? I don't think that's the part that is being debated - the amount paid by Apple relative to total earnings is what is being discussed.
lol. Clever phrasing of outsourcing work to foreign countries.
* We make a lot of low-paying jobs for young people, hocking our foreign-made goods to Americans in every state.
* We may or may not create jobs as a bi-product of our app store, where developers can try to scrape in an environment where people will turn to piracy because $0.99 is too expensive for an app.
* We pay more in taxes than any of you plebs.
(The last one is the Adam Carolla attitude: "I pay a large absolute value in taxes, so you should thank me, regardless of any considerations of relative value or overall rates")