A bipartisan group whose mission is to fight companies that try to avoid paying U.S. taxes has decided to target Apple with demonstrations at selected Apple retail stores on June 4th, reports CNet. US Uncut says it is protesting Apple's participation in the Win America Campaign, which backs a proposal before Congress to give corporations that shelter profits overseas -- including Apple, Microsoft, Google, Adobe, Cisco and many other large corporations -- a limited-time "tax holiday" that would allow them to return their profits to the U.S. without paying the normal rate of taxes.
US Uncut and other groups feels that this legislation, dubbed the Freedom to Invest Act of 2011, amounts to a tax break for those corporations. Although other companies such as Bank of America, Pfizer, Duke Energy, General Electric and the big oil companies use the technique of disguising profits as earnings in low-tax countries to reduce their tax liability on a far larger scale, US Uncut plans to demonstrate at a handful of U.S. Apple retail stores to draw attention to the issue, as the retail stores are exceedingly popular with working Americans, the group's target audience. Apple itself would, according to the group, get a $4 billion tax savings if the legislation were to pass, and has lobbied in favor of it through their support of the WAC.
Although Apple has not yet said anything publicly on the issue, companies supporting the legislation argue that they would still be paying taxes on the repatriated profits, which would in turn be reinvested in U.S. jobs and dividends to investors. The proposal as it currently stands would reduce the tax burden on the profits in question (estimated to be around $1 trillion) from 35 percent to five percent, though the bill is not yet in its final form and could change the terms.
Though it is written as a one-time-only tax holiday, opponents worry that it would lead to additional dodging of corporate tax responsibilities, which they say is already crippling the government's ability to function without massive borrowing, and represents an unfair transfer of debt from corporations to average citizens.
The protest, scheduled for June 4th, is part of a national "Day of Action" against the legislation, and will also target other supporters of the bill. While repeatedly referring to Apple as a "great company" that makes "products we love," US Uncut spokesperson Ana Corrie said in a statement that the group is "disappointed to see ... Apple participate in such a deceitful campaign." The group has not provided documentation of their specific charges against Apple, but other corporations targeted by the group have been proven to have avoided genuine tax liability through loopholes and other techniques such as moving profits off-shore.
US Uncut has been holding protests in various cities since last month, generally protesting the tax breaks and subsidies often referred to as "corporate welfare" which often go to large, incredibly profitable companies. Their argument is that the government would need to do less cutting of important social programs such as education and healthcare if they would more aggressively collect taxes owed by misbehaving corporations, and shut off subsidies and other loopholes. As an example, they claim that if Apple paid the taxes on their offshore profits, it would be enough to hire 90,000 new teachers.
The group plans to organize "dance-in" flash mobs in Apple stores, along with providing an "action kit" including chants, slogans, signs and leaflets to interested protesters. Currently, protests are planned for Boston, Seattle and the group's home base of San Francisco. US Uncut has launched a video on YouTube to illustrate their case (seen below). [via CNet]