Friday, 02 September 2016 09:18

Apple's Cook blows hot and cold on cash stash Featured

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Apple chief executive Tim Cook is keeping people guessing as to whether the company will repatriate its massive pile of cash stashed outside the US or leave things as they are.

In an interview with the Irish state radio broadcaster RTE, Cook said the company expected to repatriate billions of dollars of global profits to the United States next year.

Questions about what Apple will do with its massive pile of cash, estimated to be more than US$200 billion, which is stashed outside the US, have arisen in the wake of the EU order that the company pay €13 billion (A$19.73 billion) in back taxes to Ireland.

"We provisioned several billion dollars for the US for payment as soon as we repatriate it, and right now I would forecast that repatriation to occur next year," Cook told RTE.

But when asked by the Wall Street Journal about this, an Apple spokeswoman said this reflected Cook's optimism that the US would make changes to its tax rate next year in order to make it attractive for the company to take the cash back to the US.

The spokeswoman added that his comments didn't represent any change to Apple’s position on the question.

That position was apparently the one which Cook stated in an earlier interview with the Washington Post, before the EU acted.

Asked about a statement by Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, that Apple's profit reporting in Ireland amounted to fraud, Cook replied that he hadn't heard it, adding in part: "And when we bring it (the pile of cash) back, we will pay 35% federal tax and then a weighted average across the states that we’re in, which is about 5%, so think of it as 40%.

"We've said at 40%, we're not going to bring it back until there's a fair rate. There’s no debate about it. Is that legal to do or not legal to do? It is legal to do. It is the current tax law."

There has been talk by both US presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, that they will facilitate the return of money stashed abroad by American multinationals. The total has been estimated to be US$2.1 billion.

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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