The Australian tax authorities have asked Apple for AU$28.5m in back taxes, as the company's complex tax strategies increasingly come under fire around the world.
The Sydney Morning Herald speculates that the Australian Tax Office, or ATO, presented Apple's Australian arm with the bill in response to the system of parent and subsidiary companies that Apple uses (along with most other international firms) to minimise its tax liability.
Apple Australia turned over AU$4.9bn in revenue last year; with this step, its total tax bill for the year is AU$94.7m, or 1.9 percent of that figure. (Income tax, of course, is based on profits rather than revenues. As well as seeking out the countries with the most favourable tax rates, juggling of overseas subsidiaries can be a good way to limit profits in any one territory.)
Apple is one of the major corporations to face public outcry this year over its tax strategies. As we reported earlier this month, Apple is believed to have paid less than 2 percent tax on its profits outside the US in the past 12 months: Apple's Form 10-K filing shows it paid just $713m (£445m) in overseas corporation tax on 'foreign' profits of $38.87bn (£23bn).
Apple is scarcely alone in this; Starbucks is probably the most visible reviled tax minimiser of the moment, but tech giants Amazon and Google have both had their tax strategies scrutinised too in recent months. Those three are said to have avoided paying nearly £900m of tax in the UK, according to The Guardian.