18 Mar 2017

Apple dodges NZ tax questions: 'We follow the law'

5:50 pm on 18 March 2017

Technology giant Apple has dodged questions over a report it paid no tax in New Zealand in a decade.

Instead, Apple responded by saying it paid most of its tax in the United States, where the company was based.

apple

Apple claims to be the largest taxpayer in the world, but a report says New Zealand got none of it. Photo: AFP

A New Zealand Herald investigation found Apple paid no local tax in the last decade, despite selling $4.2 billion worth of products in New Zealand in that time.

The government has refused to comment on the report.

In a statement today, Apple did not say whether it had paid tax in New Zealand since 2007.

Apple said it was the largest taxpayer in the world and followed the law in every country in which it operated.

The company said it aimed to be a force for good and was proud of the contributions it made in New Zealand.

Revenue Minister Judith Collins said earlier she could not comment on individual cases, but there was a minority of multinationals that tried to reduce their taxes.

She said that was unfair and she was working to strengthen the tax rules.

Judith Collins announces plans to run for National Party leader.

Revenue Minister Judith Collins. Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

Untasted Apple shows govt 'too slow' on tax - Labour

The Labour Party made calls for greater transparency over how multinationals conduct their tax affairs.

Labour revenue spokesperson Michael Wood argued there was no reason Apple should avoid public scrutiny.

"If we do have these large multinational companies who, on the basis of pretty good evidence, are potentially avoiding their tax, they don't actually have the same rights to absolute privacy about that as an ordinary individual who might be under investigation," he said.

He said the government had been too slow to act on closing loopholes.

"Every single tax expert who looks at this says 'yep, our current system allows for this', he said.

"So Apple hasn't been doing anything illegal, they've exploiting loopholes in the tax laws that we've known about for years."

Mr Wood promised greater transparency for the tax affairs of overseas corporations if Labour were to win this year's general election.