Tim Cook calls notion of Apple avoiding US taxes 'political crap'

Tim Cook in a screenshot talking about Apple paying tax on 60 Minutes.
Tim Cook in a screenshot talking about Apple paying tax on 60 Minutes.PHOTO: CBS

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - Apple chief executive Tim Cook dismissed as "total political crap" the notion that the tech giant was avoiding taxes.

Cook's remarks, made on CBS' 60 Minutes show, come amid a debate in the United States over corporations avoiding taxes through techniques such as so-called inversion deals, where a company redomiciles its tax base to another country.

"Apple pays every tax dollar we owe," Cook told 60 Minutes'Charlie Rose in an interview.

Cook said bringing profits back to the United States would cost him 40 per cent.

"I don't think that's a reasonable thing to do," he said.

Apple saves billions of dollars in taxes through subsidiaries in Ireland, where it declares much of its overseas profit.

The company holds US$181.1 billion (S$255 billion) in offshore profits, more than any other US company, and would owe an estimated US$59.2 billion in taxes if it tried to bring the money back to the United States, a recent study based on SEC filings showed.

The current tax code was made for the industrial age, and not the "digital age," Cook said.

"It's backwards. It's awful for America. It should have been fixed many years ago."

Apple shares were down 1.8 per cent at US$106.97 in afternoon trading on Friday.