After Google’s paltry £6m tax hit on its £395m 2011 turnover, its now Apple’s turn to take a starring role in the increasingly seedy sideshow that is major tech companies paying minimal tax on epic earnings.
Cupertino forked over just 1.9 per cent of its profits to non-US tax authorities last year, according to The Guardian. That works out as £445m on an overseas profit of £23bn.
The UK’s corporation tax rate is 24 per cent, somewhat higher than the figure that Tim Cook and co paid in 2011.
This isn’t just an Apple issue. As mentioned, Google has been playing this game for some time, with Eric Schmidt claiming slack British tax laws are to blame.
The question is, as tech fans and consumers, what do we do now we know that the two key purveyors of smartphones and tablets are not paying their fair share on profits, money we’ve handed over in large quantities for top-end products?
This is a complex problem. A solo boycott is unlikely to have any material effect on Apple and the company will doubtless be swift to point out that it’s used legal loopholes to keep its tax bill down.
So, what can be done? For those who already own Apple products, don’t want more and want to assuage any guilt they have in playing a part in this charade, there’s always the option of giving up on Apple’s services.
This could mean not using iTunes to buy music and rent movies, ditching iBooks or stymying that app addiction once and for all. Of course, this brings issues, not least for those who have created apps, songs and books and are consequently having their profits hit too.
Meanwhile, switching to another platform, be it Google’s Play Store or Amazon’s Kindle outlet, is hardly helping the problem. Both are just as bad as Apple when it comes to paying up what is rightfully owed.
What is required is a mass awareness campaign, one where users of all different platforms unite, even just for one day, and don’t buy smartphones, tablets, apps, books or music from Apple or Google.
An organised approach, which truly hits them in the pocket, could at last make someone at boardroom level wake up and realise that charging premium prices for products and services and then not giving back what is rightfully owed is morally repugnant.
It’s simply another way of taking advantage of consumers, this time in a way that affects them beyond not offering the latest software for old devices or overcharging for movie rentals.
We all need to unite and show the big guys that this is no way to run a tech business in the 21st century.