Apple Denied Request to Ban Tax Protestors From Its Stores in France

The High Court of Paris on Friday denied Apple's request for an injunction that would have blocked activist group Attac from protesting at the company's retail stores across France, as it has been doing for the past several months.

Attac activists protesting at an Apple Store in France via Libération

The order states that the mere presence of protesters at Apple's stores in France, without violence, vandalism, or customers being blocked from entering the premises, is not enough to justify limiting the group's rights to freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful assembly protected by human rights laws in Europe.

The court added that Attac acted in accordance with the European Union's Statutes of the Association, and defined the protests as a matter of public interest. Apple has been ordered to pay 2,000 euros to cover Attac's legal fees, according to the order, which was earlier reported by French website MacGeneration.

Attac is a voluntary association that has been accusing Apple of corporate tax evasion in Europe, in line with the European Commission ordering Ireland to recover around 13 billion euros in back taxes from the iPhone maker in 2016. Apple and Ireland have denied the accusations and are appealing the decision.

Apple previously said it has "a long tradition of supporting individuals and groups that peacefully express their opinions," but it accused Attac's activists of "vandalizing shops and endangering the security of staff and customers," which it finds unacceptable, according to court documents obtained by The Guardian.

During a stunt at an Apple store in Aix-en-Provence last November, for example, activists painted "pay your taxes" on the glass windows. Attac also gathered in front of the High Court of Paris last week with Stormtrooper costumes and Star Wars-themed signs that equated Apple to the evil Galactic Empire.

Apple CEO Tim Cook equated to Darth Sidious via Sol Trumbo Vila‏

Attac has a different view. In a blog post published today, the association said it is "defending the public interest" with "non-violent citizen actions," and it has previously called its actions "festive and good-natured."

Apple has yet to comment on today's decision, and it's unclear if it will exercise other legal options in its fight against Attac.

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U.K. Government Targets Tech Giants Like Apple and Amazon Over Tax Payments

The U.K. government announced in Wednesday's annual budget that it plans to clamp down on tax avoidance by increasing the tax it collects from online giants such as Apple and Amazon.

In his Treasury speech to the Commons, Chancellor Philip Hammond said income tax would be charged on royalties relating to U.K. sales, even when they are paid to a low-tax jurisdiction and would not normally be taxed in the UK under current rules.


The new rules are due to come into effect from April next year, and estimates suggest they will raise approximately 800 million pounds ($1.07 billion) in extra tax over the next five years. However, Hammond admitted they would only go some way to balancing out the taxation treatment of digital firms, and that more would have to be done to tackle tax avoidance.
Multinational digital businesses pay billions of pounds in royalties to jurisdictions where they are not taxed and some of those relate to UK sales.

This does not solve the problem, but it does send a signal of our determination and we will continue work in the international arena to find a sustainable and fair long-term solution that properly taxes the digital businesses that operate in our cyberspace.
Apple recently came in for criticism when the so-called Paradise Papers revealed that the company sidestepped a 2013 crackdown on its controversial Irish tax structure by moving the majority of its offshore cash holdings to the small island of Jersey, a self-governed territory with loose ties to the United Kingdom.

The papers showed that Apple's two key Irish subsidiaries were managed from the Jersey offices of offshore tax law firm Appleby from 2015 until early 2016. Apple reportedly chose Jersey after exploring several potential tax havens, such as Bermuda and the Cayman Islands.

Apple apparently turned to Jersey after European officials began to crack down on the so-called "Double Irish" tax structure it had exploited. The loophole allows for multinational corporations to funnel revenue through an Irish subsidiary, which in turn sends that money to another Irish subsidiary that has residency in a tax haven. The practice has enabled Apple to save billions of dollars in taxes globally.

Apple responded to the revelations contained in the Paradise Papers by saying that it made regulators in the U.S. and Ireland, and the European Commission, aware about the reorganization of its Irish subsidiaries, and added that the changes haven't reduced its tax bill.

Last year, the European Commission ordered Ireland to collect $14.5 billion in back taxes from Apple, after it concluded that the country's tax agreements with the tech giant represented "illegal state aid". Both Apple and the Irish government are currently appealing the ruling.

Apple has repeatedly highlighted its position as the largest taxpayer in the world and reiterated the fact that it holds overseas cash because that's where the majority of its products are sold. Apple CEO Tim Cook has said that Apple is willing to repatriate some of its offshore cash holdings into the U.S., but he also recently said that tax reform is "sorely needed" first.

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Apple Reportedly Shifted Billions of Dollars to Small Island of Jersey Amid Tax Crackdown

Apple sidestepped a 2013 crackdown on its controversial Irish tax structure by moving the majority of its offshore cash holdings to the small island of Jersey, a self-governed territory with loose ties to the United Kingdom, according to leaked financial documents obtained by The New York Times and BBC.

The island of Jersey via its Chamber of Commerce

The so-called Paradise Papers, primarily sourced from offshore tax law firm Appleby, reveal that Apple's two key Irish subsidiaries were managed from Appleby's office in Jersey from 2015 until early 2016. Apple chose Jersey after exploring several potential tax havens, such as Bermuda and the Cayman Islands.

Apple said it made regulators in the United States and Ireland, and the European Commission, aware about the reorganization of its Irish subsidiaries, and added that the changes haven't reduced its tax bill.

"The changes we made did not reduce our tax payments in any country," an Apple spokesperson told The New York Times. "At Apple we follow the laws, and if the system changes we will comply. We strongly support efforts from the global community toward comprehensive international tax reform and a far simpler system."

Apple turned to Jersey after European officials began to crack down on the so-called "Double Irish" tax structure Apple had exploited.

The "Double Irish" tax loophole allows for multinational corporations to funnel revenue through an Irish subsidiary, which in turn sends that money to another Irish subsidiary that has residency in a tax haven. In a nutshell, the practice has enabled Apple to save billions of dollars in taxes around the world.

The European Commission found Apple paid between 0.005 percent and 1 percent in taxes in Ireland from 2003 through 2014, compared to the country's headline 12.5 percent corporate tax rate. Apple CEO Tim Cook said the Commission's ruling against Apple was "total political crap" and that the tax rates were a "false number."

When questioned by the United States Senate investigative subcommittee in 2013, Cook said "we pay all the taxes we owe." He added that Apple doesn't "stash money on some Caribbean island."

While that was true at the time, it's clear Apple was exploring similar options as part of its tax minimization efforts.

"This is how it usually works: You close one tax shelter, and something else opens up," said Reuven Avi-Yonah, director of the international tax program at the University of Michigan Law School. "It just goes on endlessly."

Cook has made it clear that Apple is willing to repatriate some of its offshore cash holdings into the United States, but he recently said tax reform is "sorely needed" first. U.S. President Donald Trump has proposed lowering the headline corporate tax rate to 20 percent, down from 35 percent currently.

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E.U. to Take Ireland to Court For Failing to Claim Apple Tax

The European Commission said on Wednesday it will take Ireland to court for its failure to recover up to 13 billion euros ($15.3 billion) of tax due from Apple (via Reuters). Apple was ordered to pay the unpaid taxes in August 2016 after the Commission ruled that the company had received illegal state aid.

The Commission argued that Irish revenue commissioners gave Apple unfair advantage between 1991 and 2007 by allowing the company to move income from the European market through two "non-resident" head office subsidiaries based in Ireland. Ireland vowed to appeal the ruling.
“More than one year after the Commission adopted this decision, Ireland has still not recovered the money,” EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said, adding that Dublin had not even sought a portion of the sum.

“We of course understand that recovery in certain cases may be more complex than in others, and we are always ready to assist. But member states need to make sufficient progress to restore competition,” she added.

The Commission said the deadline for Ireland to implement its decision had been Jan. 3 this year and that, until the aid was recovered, the company continued to benefit from an illegal advantage.
Ireland's finance ministry said it had never accepted the Commission's analysis in the Apple state aid decision, but would collect the money due pending Dublin's own appeal of the ruling.

"It is extremely regrettable that the Commission has taken this action, especially in relation to a case with such a large scale recovery amount," the ministry said in a statement.

Apple claimed earlier this year that the Commission made "fundamental errors" when it ruled that the company owed Ireland the unpaid taxes plus interest, and argued that the profits to those activities were attributable to the United States.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has called the EC's ruling "total political crap" and described the lower end 0.005 percent tax rate Apple is accused of paying as a "false number". The Apple CEO has previously said he believes the decision will be reversed.

In addition, Vestager announced a demand for Amazon to pay around 250 million euros in taxes to Luxembourg. Amazon denied it owed any back tax, and claimed it had not received any "special treatment" from Luxembourg.

"We will study the Commission's ruling and consider our legal options, including an appeal," an Amazon spokesperson said.

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