Apple co-founder Steve (The Woz) Wozniak sat down with the BBC, and during the conversation, he shared his opinion on how much in taxes Apple, and all companies for that matter, should pay in taxes. The acceptable tax rate in his mind? 50 percent.
He told BBC Radio 5 live: “I don’t like the idea that Apple might be unfair – not paying taxes the way I do as a person.
“I do a lot of work, I do a lot of travel and I pay over 50% of anything I make in taxes and I believe that’s part of life and you should do it.”
When asked if Apple should pay that amount, he replied: “Every company in the world should.”
Companies like Apple, Google, and Amazon have long faced criticism from those who say they aren’t paying their fair share of taxes. Apple is currently the focus of a tax inquiry by the European Commission.
Wozniak founded Apple with Steve Jobs and Ronald Wayne some 40 years ago, it has since grown to one of the biggest companies in the world, worth approximately $600 billion. However, Woz says he was never interested in money, but when it comes to Jobs…
“Steve Jobs started Apple Computers for money, that was his big thing and that was extremely important and critical and good.”
Apple channels much of its business in Europe through a subsidiary in Ireland, where the corporation tax rate is 12.5%, compared to the UK’s rate of 20%, and the U.S. rate of 35%. Apple admitted a few years back that two of its Irish subsidiaries pay a low, low tax rate of 2%. Apple’s current offshore cash reserves amount to around $200 billion, all of that out of the reach of tax officials.
Wozniak continued, saying: “We didn’t think we’d be figuring out how to go off to the Bahamas and have special accounts like people do to try to hide their money,” referring to the recent Panama Papers scandal.
“But you know, on the other hand I look back any company that is a public company, its shareholders are going to force it to be as profitable as possible and that means financial people studying all the laws of the world and figuring out all the schemes that work that are technically legal. They’re technically legal and it bothers me and I would not live my life that way.”
Wozniak also weighed in on the idea of the UK seceding from the European Union:
“I don’t care. I think that all the states of Europe – it’s better if you have very easy transportation – like movement from one to another to another”, he said.
On Apple’s recent battles with law enforcement over encryption on its mobile devices, the Woz opined:
“There are politicians who do not have a clue as to what cyber security is all about trying to pass laws saying that Apple has to make a product less secure.
“Why? That’s a crime. That is just so horrible. I just cry! Why would Apple do it for such a weak case where the government were not going to get any valuable information at all – it’s impossible.”
Woz’s comments came as he was in Manchester to speak at the Business Rocks technology summit.
(Thanks to MacTrast reader @theogsc for the link.)