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Professor Seymour Papert

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It's not just Apple (Apple Gets an EU Shakedown

Posted on August 30, 2016 by Brad Hoppmann

There’s an expression I heard once during my college days that said, “The best always take the heat.”

I can’t remember what, precisely, that expression referred to back then, but it certainly applies in numerous ways to all sorts of things.

Take, for example, today’s ruling by the European Union’s (EU) executive arm, the European Commission (EC), ordering what is arguably the best company in the world to retroactively pay some $14.5 billion in back taxes and interest.

Yes, you read that right, “retroactively,” because the EU wants personal technology giant Apple (AAPL) to repay 13 billion euros ($14.5 billion) in back taxes and interest to the Irish government as part of a crackdown into EU member nations’ “special tax treatments” for multinational companies.

The EU calls it a “crackdown,” but I just call it what it is … a shakedown of the best for being successful.

At the heart of this issue is what amounts to a “disagreement” between the European Commission and Ireland. The EC says that the special tax deal Ireland negotiated with Apple amounts to illegal state aid under the EU rules.

This is a prime example of the EU coming in and telling a member nation what to do. It’s also a prime reason why UK voters opted out of the EU via the Brexit vote.

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In today’s statement announcing the decision, the European Commissioner in charge, Margrethe Vestager, said:

“Member States cannot give tax benefits to selected companies — this is illegal under EU state aid rules. The Commission’s investigation concluded that Ireland granted illegal tax benefits to Apple, which enabled it to pay substantially less tax than other businesses over many years. In fact, this selective treatment allowed Apple to pay an effective corporate tax rate of 1 per cent on its European profits in 2003 down to 0.005 per cent in 2014.”

Now, I am not doubting the numbers here in terms of the low effective tax rate paid by Apple. I also am not denying that if Apple pays such a low rate while other multinationals pay a much higher rate, then that is the opposite of a so-called “level playing field” in terms of tax treatment.

The thing that seems outrageous here is that Apple negotiated a deal with the Irish government, and in good faith. The Irish government basically offered Apple a deal they couldn’t refuse, and so the deal was made.

Now, years after the fact, the EC says the deal is no good, and wants to punish Apple for it.

That is not okay.

What this looks like to me is the EU going through its member-nation dealings, figuring out where the money is, and then targeting that money — despite legitimate, legal deals made by the respective governments with these companies.

And, Apple is not the only one.

According to a report in today’s Wall Street Journal, the European Commission’s tax probe has already targeted many big-name multinationals, including Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD)Amazon.com (AMZN)Fiat Chrysler (FCA)McDonalds (MCD) and Starbucks (SBUX).

This targeting of the best also is occurring in specific countries. As the WSJ article also points out:

Companies also face increasing enforcement efforts at a national level. Tax authorities in Spain and France have raided Google’s offices. French authorities have demanded more than €1 billion in back taxes and fines.

While Alphabet (GOOGL) says it pays all the tax it owes, that claim has never stopped a tax collector from poking around and/or conducting a raid if they decide to do so.

Now for Apple, a bill of $14.5 billion isn’t a material cost that’s going to hurt the company’s bottom line. Last year, the company brought in revenue of some $233.7 billion, so this fee is just a drop in the proverbial bucket.

Still, the immorality of this situation, as I see it, is that an outside authority — a “Big Brother”-like authority claiming sovereignty over Ireland can just decide to make Apple pay, even though Apple completely followed the rules of the game.

To its credit, the Irish government is appealing the EC decision. And, much to my surprise, even the U.S. Treasury Department gets credit here for being on the right side.

Last week, Treasury released a white paper addressing the EU on what was then a likely overreach. In the paper, Treasury basically accuses the EU of executing a power grab and unfairly targeting American companies:

“The U.S. Treasury Department continues to consider potential responses should the Commission continue its present course. A strongly preferred and mutually beneficial outcome would be a return to the system and practice of international tax cooperation that has long fostered cross-border investment between the United States and EU Member States.”

Well, the EU ignored that warning with its statement today.

The bottom line here is that where the money is, you’re likely to find Europe’s tax collectors trying to find ways around the law in order to get more money from the “best,” i.e. the most successful multi-national companies.

Now we’ll see if the U.S., Ireland and other sovereign nations are willing to fight the EU’s corporate shakedown.

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https://www.uncommonwisdomdaily.com/apple-gets-an-eu-shakedown-23212

If you’d like to weigh in on any of the issues we cover in the Afternoon Edition, please don’t hesitate to do so. Let me know what you think by leaving me a comment on our website or by sending me an e-mail.)


I had a feeling Vestager would do this:

As expected, Vestager lets Gazprom off the hook

She behaved like some tough lady when it came to civilized people like Tim Cook but caved in with Putin; now she’s one more person who makes Putin look good (Europe’s Competition Czar Says Corporate Fines should hurt yet there’s no fine for Gazprom); she IS targeting US companies.)


Commission to announce peace deal with Gazprom by next week(When Vestager who has lived a relatively cushy life, particularly in a “happy” country like Denmark where there’s a great social safety net, she can hardly be in a position to deal with dictators like Putin who do exactly as they like; if she hasn’t imposed any fines and has bought the peace deal hook line and sinker, then Putin got the better of her and again got away with it….it’s our allies in Eastern Europe and Russian dissidents who will pay for the West's weakness….)    


Peace deal with Putin??? The bionic woman looks like she’s nothing more than a drip, a marshmallow, a tit…she is creating problems for former soviet-run countries (Here's a list of all the Putin critics who wound up murdered /poisoned- more like ‘some’ critics, not all -there’s many more) SO WHO’S THE MAD C*NT NOW, MS VESTAGER (Your words to the Irish, remember? Just trying to remind you, Mother****er; after all you’ve just proved Silicon Valley right for not wanting to pay you)……and you go on:“You people need to get your priorities straight; it’s like you don’t want the money or something. Just take it and don’t waste it on silly things…”. and also …" Vestager proceeded to write out the amount on a piece of paper, before aggressively holding it up, now shouting: “See all those zeros? It’s enough to get every citizen in this country pissed for three days”……it won’t so long as the EU Government steals.

Bulgarian gas wars uncover hidden Gazprom strategies

EXCLUSIVE / Gazprom stopped supplies to Overgas, a private Bulgarian gas distribution company in which it has a 50% stake. The surprising move prompted comments and provided insight into the broader strategies of the Russian gas monopoly in Bulgaria, and the local interests involved.

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