Consumer electronics giant Apple paid no income tax to Inland Revenue over the past decade despite selling billions of dollars worth of iPhones and iPads to New Zealanders.
The revelations about Apple’s local tax bill – in addition to international concerns about its use of havens such as Ireland – have sparked concerns a recently announced government crackdown on multinational tax avoidance may not go far enough.
Green Party co-leader James Shaw said Apple was not paying its fair share.
“It is absolutely extraordinary that they are able to get away with paying zero tax in this country. I really like Apple products – they’re incredibly innovative – but it looks like their tax department is even more innovative than their product designers,” Shaw said.
New Zealanders are avid Apple consumers – especially of its high-end iPhone handsets – and the company accounted for a quarter of the local smartphone market last year.
According to figures compiled by industry analysts IDC, Apple sold 221,000 phones here in the three months to December.
Over the past decade, mostly thanks to the iPhone revolutionising the mobile phone, Apple grew to become the world’s largest and most profitable company. According to financial statements for the company’s local subsidiary, Apple Sales New Zealand, record total sales here since 2007 were $4.2 billion.
The accounts also show apparent income tax payments of $37 million – but a close reading shows this sum was paid to Inland Revenue but was actually sent abroad to the Australian Tax Office, an arrangement that has been in place since at least 2007.