I have read numerous articles and I think that Corporate Social Responsibility and Apple are hot topics at the moment. When it was found that European firms were cheating on their emissions reports it was a great scandal and the European and German automotive industries took a financial hit. Their cheating cost them billions. In the US people were financially compensated whilst as one article put it Europeans got a plastic tube.
We should look at the Apple Back taxes story within the context of Brexit, the rise of the far right in a number of countries and the emerging popularity of Trump within certain sectors of the American voting public. The group anonymous is defending the rights of the 99 percent. They protest against Wall Street and the abuses of corporations and the wealthy.
When houses in the US were foreclosed because of the bubble bursting because of complex dividends those who suffered were the poor and the middle classes because they borrowed money at a rate that they could not pay it back. A number of documentary makers have explored this issue and there have been talks at the Graduate institute and other places.
Apple is currently making billions per quarter and that money is being stockpiled in offshore accounts so that neither the US government nor the European union can get to it. Other writers and journalists have written about this extensively. The perspective that I want to take is a moral one.
Apple products are expensive, they can cost twice as much as their android equivalents. People in the European markets are paying for these products. They pay the country’s VAT along with the product’s cost. They are contributing to the local economy.
Tim Cook argues that what the European Commission is doing is a “load of crap” and that it is abusing of its power. From an ethical and moral point of view though it is Apple that is being unethical and amoral. They are part of the economy. When they sell products they make huge profits that are taxed at less than one percent. 12 billion dollars could do a lot of good within the European Union if and when it is recovered because it could contribute to the road networks and transport infrastructure. It could contribute to housing, education and much more. In contributing to the economy those billions that Apple owes in back taxes could improve the quality of life of millions.
They hide behind the mask of job creation. They believe that because they contribute to the creation of 6000 jobs in Ireland that their corporate social responsibility stops there. It does not. Apple must be ethical enough to pay taxes like every other business is expected to do.
In effect Apple is providing a concrete example of what Brexiters voted against, the corporations syphoning off money to the detriment of living conditions of many populations around Europe. If corporations are allowed to make billions in profits without paying taxes because of creative accounting then society as a whole suffers. It also ferments resentment and encourages people to vote for the right.
In my opinion, based on the reading of numerous articles and watching many documentaries Apple should agree to pay the 14 billion as a gesture of good will and as a Public relations exercise. Imagine what a positive effect those billions would have for the European Union as a whole. Imagine how much social good having that money re-invested would do.
I believe that Tim Cook and Apple need to pay these back taxes to diffuse the tensions caused by austerity movements across Europe. A wealthy, rather than austere Europe could buy more Apple products. Other corporations would also benefit directly from people’s increased disposable income. A few weeks or months ago I watched a documentary about how the United States benefited from corporations paying their fair share of taxes.