On 6th September 2021, Ethical Consumer viewed the entry for Apple Inc on the Opensecrets.org website, which was published in the USA by the Centre for Responsive Politics. This stated that in 2020 the company had spent $7,410,000 on lobbying and in 2020 the company and its employees had made $6,758,150 in political donations, 95.27% of which went to Democrats.
OpenSecrets states: “NOTE: Organizations themselves cannot contribute to candidates and party committees. Figures on this page include contributions and spending by affiliates.”

40 out of 48 Apple Inc lobbyists in 2020 had previously held government jobs.

The company lost a whole mark under Political Activities.


Open Secrets generic ref 2021 (5 January 2021)

On 6th September 2021., Ethical Consumer conducted an internet search to determine what, if any, memberships Apple Inc has with entities considered by Ethical Consumer to be lobby groups. According to the Ethical Consumer lobby group members list, updated in February 2021, Apple was a member of the following lobby groups:

World Business Council for Sustainable Development
Business Roundtable
European Services Forum
World Economic Forum

These groups were regarded by Ethical Consumer as international corporate lobby groups which exerted undue corporate influence on policy-makers in favour of market solutions that were potentially detrimental to the environment and human rights.

Apple Inc lost half a mark for each of the lobby groups of which it was a member.


Ethical Consumer Lobby Group member list (February 2021)

On August 27th 2021, Ethical Consumer viewed the 2021 SEC filing DEF 14a for Apple, which showed compensation for named executive officers for 2018. Five people had received totals of over £1 million, the equivalent that Ethical Consumer considered excessive.
The company therefore lost a full mark under Anti-Social Finance.


SEC Schedule 14A Notice of 2021 Annual Meeting of Shareholders and Proxy Statement (27 August 2021)

A Guardian article dated August 2016 reported that Apple had been ordered to a pay €13bn (£11bn) in back taxes to Ireland by the European Commission. In an article entitled "Apple ordered to pay €13bn after EU rules Ireland broke state aid laws" the Guardian report that the company had been presented with the huge bill after the European Commission ruled that a sweetheart tax deal between Apple and the Irish tax authorities amounted to illegal state aid.
The Commission said the deal allowed Apple to pay a maximum tax rate of just 1%. In 2014, the tech firm paid tax at just 0.005%. The usual rate of corporation tax in Ireland is 12.5%.
“Member states cannot give tax benefits to selected companies – this is illegal under EU state aid rules,” said the European competition commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, whose investigation of Apple’s complex tax dealings has taken three years.
The Commission said Ireland’s tax arrangements with Apple between 1991 and 2015 had allowed the US company to attribute sales to a “head office” that only existed on paper and could not have generated such profits.
The result was that Apple avoided tax on almost all the profit generated from its multi-billion euro sales of iPhones and other products across the EU’s single market. It booked the profits in Ireland rather than the country in which the product was sold.
The taxable profits of Apple Sales International and Apple Operations Europe did not correspond to economic reality, the Commission said.
Vestager said: “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.”
The company therefore lost half a mark under Tax Conduct.


Apple ordered to pay €13bn after EU rules Ireland broke state aid laws (30 August 2016)

On 6th September 2021, Ethical Consumer viewed Apple Inc’s family tree on the website hoovers.com.

Apple had several subsidiaries in jurisdictions considered to be tax havens by Ethical Consumer at the time of writing, including holding companies in Ireland, Nevada (US), Netherlands, Hong Kong, Singapore and Switzerland such as:

Voysis Limited, Ireland
Apple Asia Limited, Hong Kong
Apple Holding B.V., Netherlands
Apple Benelux B.V., Netherlands
Apple Retail Netherlands B.V., Netherlands
Apple Switzerland AG, Switzerland
Apple Retail Switzerland GmbH, Switzerland

Holding companies were considered high risk company types for likely use of tax avoidance strategies.

The following companies were subsidiaries of Apple Inc. but were not holding companies:

Apple Operations, Ireland
Braeburn Capital Inc., Nevada (US)

An internet search using the search terms “Apple tax policy statement country” found a statement from Apple dated regarding Apple's tax payments. This statement provided a degree of narrative explantation for Apple's subsidiaries in Ireland. However, Ethical Consumer found no country-by-country financial information or reporting (CBCR), nor clear public tax statement confirming that it was this company’s policy not to engage in tax avoidance activity or to use tax havens for tax avoidance purposes.

Given that Apple had more than two high risk subsidiaries in jurisdictions on Ethical Consumer's list of tax havens and no country-by-country financial information could be found, the company received Ethical Consumer's worst rating for likely use of tax avoidance strategies and lost a whole mark in this category.


Generic Hoovers ref (2020)

The Silicon Six and their $100 billion global tax gap, was a report published in December 2019 by the Fair Tax Mark which examined the tax conduct of Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google and Microsoft over the last decade.
It concluded that the corporation tax paid by the Silicon Six was much lower than is commonly understood. Over the period 2010 to 2019:
* the gap between the expected headline rates of tax and the cash taxes actually paid was $155.3bn
* the gap between the current tax provisions (the amount the companies were expected to pay) and the taxes actually paid was $100.2bn
The report suggested that the bulk of the shortfall almost certainly arose outside the United States. Profits continued to be shifted to tax havens, especially Bermuda, Ireland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.
Amazon had paid just $3.4bn in income taxes this decade, whilst Apple had paid $93.8bn and Microsoft had paid $46.9bn. This is a staggering variance, especially as Amazon’s revenue over this period exceeded that of Microsoft’s by almost $80bn.
Out of the six, Apple was sixth worst (Amazon was the worst).
According to the report, it presented itself as “the world’s largest taxpayer” and it certainly made the largest tax contribution of the Silicon Six, having paid $93.8bn in income taxes this decade (albeit on profits of $548.7bn and revenue of $1,888.0bn). However, cash tax paid as a percentage of profit over the decade was still a relatively low 17.1%.
The trend of low current tax provision in connection with foreign profits continued in 2019, with just $3.9bn booked on $44.3bn of foreign profit, giving a booked current tax rate of just 8.9%.
TaxWatch estimated that Apple has avoided £2.6bn of taxes in the UK over the years 2012-2017 inclusive.
The Republic of Ireland (and more recently Jersey) was said to be a key part of Apple’s tax avoidance strategies, especially for the sizeable European revenue that is booked directly in Ireland. The Paradise Papers revealed that the income flowing through Ireland was even stateless for a time, from a tax point of view.
Five of the nine ‘significant’ subsidiaries recognised in Apple’s 10-K filings were Irish incorporations. In a landmark case, in August 2016, the European Commission concluded that Ireland (to where Apple directs the vast bulk of its foreign earnings) had granted the company undue tax benefits of up to €13bn. This sum, plus interest of €1.2bn, sat in an escrow account pending appeal resolution at the time of writing.
In the UK, Apple’s subsidiaries were forced to pay additional tax following tax audits. In January 2018, it was reported that both Apple (UK) Ltd and Apple Europe Ltd (which is UK incorporated) would pay £81.3m and £137m respectively in additional taxes to HMRC in relation to years prior to 2015, and much more tax thereafter.
Previously, the Apple Europe Ltd subsidiary (which is incorporated in the UK) had a transfer pricing arrangement in place that resulted in the provision of zero current tax year after year. As with Google, this settlement was widely viewed as being modest, especially given the much more substantial back taxes secured by France subsequently, amounting to €500m.
The company therefore lost half a mark under Tax Conduct.


The Silicon Six and their $100 billion global tax gap (December 2019)