Apple CEO on Tax Shelters: 'I'm Not an Unfair Person'

Defends practices, company's contributions to US economy

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted May 21, 2013 12:47 PM CDT

(Newser) – Tim Cook is on Capitol Hill today to answer criticism that Apple uses overly creative—but legal—accounting practices to avoid paying billions in taxes. The highlights amount to Cook defending the company's practices, while critics such as Carl Levin and John McCain accuse it of shirking its tax duties. Rand Paul, meanwhile, says Congress has no right to go after the company—it should instead fix the tax code. Some highlights from the Guardian, Politico, and CultofMac:

  • Cook: "We are proud to be an American company, and equally proud of our contributions to the American economy." Later: "I personally don't understand the difference between a tax presence and a tax residence." And: "I don't see it as unfair. I'm not an unfair person."
  • McCain: Apple has violated "the spirit of the law" if not the "letter of the law."
  • Levin: "Just like millions around the world, I carry an iPhone in my pocket. The company's engineers and designers have a well-earned reputation for creativity. What may not be so well-known is that Apple also has a highly developed tax-avoidance system—a system through which it has amassed more than $100 billion in offshore cash in a tax haven."
  • Paul: "If anyone should be on trial here, it should be Congress," he said, citing problems with the US tax code.
  • Light moment: McCain ended his questioning with this joke: "Sir, there’s only one thing I wanted to ask you today: Why do I keep on having to update all the apps on my iPhone? Can’t you guys fix that already?" Cook laughed and said, "Sir, we're working on making our products better all the time."

Apple CEO Tim Cook is sworn in on Capitol Hill.
Apple CEO Tim Cook is sworn in on Capitol Hill.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Apple CEO Tim Cook, left, and Phillip A. Bullock, right, Apple's head of tax operations, are sworn in.
Apple CEO Tim Cook, left, and Phillip A. Bullock, right, Apple's head of tax operations, are sworn in.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Apple CEO Tim Cook, center, is surrounded by his team during a break from testifying.
Apple CEO Tim Cook, center, is surrounded by his team during a break from testifying.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
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