Apple moved billions offshore to avoid Australia tax: Report

SYDNEY (AFP) - United States tech giant Apple was on Thursday accused of shifting nearly A$9 billion (S$10.2 billion) in untaxed profits from its Australian operations to Ireland over the past decade.

An investigation by the Australian Financial Review obtained 10 years worth of financial accounts for Apple Sales International - an arm of the organisation it called the "secretive" Irish company at the heart of the group's international tax arrangements.

It claimed an estimated A$8.9 billion in untaxed profits from Australia had been moved to a tax haven structure in Ireland, paying just 0.7 percent of its turnover in tax.

Last year, Apple reported pre-tax earnings in Australia of only A$88.5 million after sending an estimated A$2 billion from its Australian sales to Ireland via Singapore, it reported.

Apple in Australia declined to comment to AFP, but it has previously said it has complied with the law and done everything required by the tax office.

The report follows last month's Group of 20 finance ministers meeting in Sydney that agreed to new measures to crack down on international tax evasion, including the automatic exchange of information between member nations.

It came as concern mounts that companies, particularly those involved in the digital and Internet sectors, can reduce their tax bills by shifting profits around the world to areas where rates are lowest Ahead of the meeting, International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde said accounting for revenues from global digitised businesses like Apple and Google was a "big ongoing problem and process".

She urged governments to radically rethink international tax arrangements to deal with it.

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is expected to present a report looking at the increasingly digitalised global environment to another G-20 meeting in Cairns, in northern Australia, in September.

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