Apple's secret tax bolthole revealed

United Kingdom Channel Islands Jersey La Corbiere Point La Corbiere Lighthouse

The tiny island of Jersey in the English Channel has reportedly become a tax haven for companies like Apple. Getty Images

The EC says Apple must repay Ireland taxes for the period within its remit of investigation, 2003-2013, a total of €13bn plus interest of €1bn. It's unclear if Apple is going to pay this fine as European governments are now discussing a tax reform. More importantly, Jersey doesn't usually tax companies.

The European Union Commissioner Margrethe Vestager started the investigation about the overseas tax strategy of multinationals in 2014.

Apple said it pays billions of dollars in taxes to the United States at the statutory 35 percent rate on investment income from its overseas cash.

Apple's 2017 accounts showed they made $44.7 billion outside the USA and paid just $1.65 billion in taxes to foreign governments, a rate of around 3.7 per cent - less than a sixth of the average rate of corporation tax in the world.

After drawing scrutiny for its use of tax loopholes in Ireland in 2013, Apple (AAPL) came up with another plan: find another tax haven that wasn't in the spotlight.

"Apple sought the Holy Grail of tax avoidance: offshore corporations that it argues are not, for tax purposes, resident anywhere in any nation", then-Sen.

"The vast majority of the value in our products is indisputably created in the United States - where we do our design, development, engineering work, and much more - so the majority of our taxes are owed to the USA".

The once-secret documents shared with some media outlets by the US-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists has exposed tactics the wealthy and powerful have used to avoid taxes.

Paradise papers come after 1.5 years of Panama leak and hold information of 13.4 million documents in 1.4 terabytes (TB) of data from a firm Appleby.

The move to the tax haven of Jersey involved two of Apple's most important subsidiaries.

Over the past three years, Apple has reported paying very low tax rates on its profits outside the United States not much more than previously. It told the BBC it remained the world's largest taxpayer, paying about over $35 billion in corporation tax over the past three years and that it had followed the law.

He said he understood that both AIB and Bank of Ireland had closed global subsidiaries that were named in the Paradise Papers but added: "Obviously this is a story that's evolving and we'll keep close attention to it".

Apple did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

In a letter from the lawyers on 20 March 2014, Appleby was asked "to provide assistance with and coordination of a multijurisdictional project involving the British Virgin Islands (BVI), Cayman, Guernsey, Isle of Man and Jersey if your proposal is cost-effective then we will ask you to handle the entire project".

The company confirmed to The Irish Times that it had changed the residency of its Irish subsidiaries and added that the move did not reduce its tax payments.

Sixty-eight minutes later, a senior Appleby executive sent an email to other partners expressing excitement that Apple had made the approach and encouraging a swift and positive response.

Apple refused to discuss the details.

Apple said in a written statement to the ICIJ that the "changes we made did not reduce our tax payments in any country".

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