By Kevin Kelleher
The views expressed are his own.
It’s not that I can’t afford it – the cash is just sitting there in my account. And it’s not that I don’t want Apple to have the money. I’d love to do my share to create jobs at One Infinite Loop or to reward Apple shareholders for their faith in the company’s impressive profit growth. No, Apple won’t let me buy a Macbook Pro because it expects me to pay $2,500. And I simply don’t want to pay that much, so I’m asking Apple to lower the price. And they should accept that; after all, $500 is better than $0.
I even went into an Apple store and asked the blue-shirted genius who greeted me if Apple would part with a 17-inch Macbook Pro for $500. He looked at me like I was crazy. Which is pretty much what I expected, but I figured I had a shot. Because I was simply following the example set by Apple and other big-cap, cash-rich tech giants who have done an end-run around tax laws. If Apple can ask for a tax holiday to bring its overseas profits home, why can’t I ask for a Macbook holiday so I can bring a new laptop home?
The genius was probably right. It is silly to insist that you pay less than your fair share. But that’s not stopping Apple, Google, Cisco, Microsoft, Oracle, EMC Adobe, Qualcomm and other companies and trade groups from lobbying hard for a tax holiday. Corporations in the biotech and energy sectors are also on the bandwagon, but the strongest push is coming from Silicon Valley.
U.S.-based multinationals hold an estimated $1.4 trillion in profits in overseas accounts. Apple alone has $82 billion in cash and marketable securities, two thirds of it held in offshore accounts. Google has $43 billion in cash and marketable securities while Microsoft has $57 billion, Cisco $46 billion and Oracle $32 billion. Many of these companies have expressed an interest in bringing overseas cash to the U.S., except they think the tax rate is too high.