Yet, why hold these hearings now? It has nothing to do with Apple, whose tax plan is over 30 years old. It surely cannot be derided as some new-found gimmick that just came to the attention of an outraged federal government. Nor does Levin make any allegation that the steps taken by Apple are anything other than perfectly legal.
These hearings are a distraction from the main event, which are the ongoing hearings and revelations of the IRS scandal on exemptions offered to “civic leagues or organizations not organized for profit but operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare.” Here, the contrast could not be more stark. It was the IRS’s Lois Lerner who first announced her innocence in response to a planted question at a meeting of the American Bar Association, only to then plead the Fifth and—for the moment—to block further questioning just as she was put on administrative leave, with both full pay and benefits. Cook’s position was of course quite the opposite; he had no need to plead the Fifth, resign, or obfuscate. His overall message was simplicity itself: “We pay all the taxes we owe.”
Apple has not sat idly by in the face of external pressure, including that from Greenlight Capital’s David Einhorn. The company has authorized a 15 percent income dividend, and share repurchase plan, both financed by issuing $17 billion of long-term debt. No cash from Apple’s overseas subsidiaries was used to finance the dividend and buyout plan, lest the repatriation of foreign revenues trigger basic tax liability. All of these moves were of course driven by the heavy burden that current law places on tax repatriation.
The media’s attacks on Apple, while conceding that Apple has not violated any law, nevertheless follow the lead of the New York Times’ Floyd Norris, who takes Apple to task for the “corrosive” effect of encouraging other organizations and people to “cheat” on their taxes.