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Apple Political Activity Attracts iRate Protesters

Posted by Abe Sauer on June 5, 2011 04:30 PM

The latest slick tech gadget is the iDeduction, which allows large corporations to avoid paying their share of taxes. Apple is beta-testing the new application now, apparently.

Over the weekend, flash mob protests popped up in Apple stores across the nation to shed light on what is being called Apple's attempt to shirk its tax responsibility to Americans. Long free of the political spotlight, it's no surprise Apple is now feeling more activist heat as the brand has recently ramped up its own political activity and lobbying efforts.

Bnet speaks with the US Uncut, the organization behind the Apple protests, reporting that US Uncut "has targeted WinAmerica, a campaign funded by large corporations to promote the idea of a tax holiday that would allow companies to repatriate $1 trillion in profits they hold overseas to avoid federal taxes."

The spokesman tells Bnet that, of all the possibilities, US Uncut targeted Apple specifically because of how brand-conscious it is, adding, "If we can put enough shame on Apple’s brand by showing up at their stores, we can hopefully get Steve Jobs and the Apple team to leave the WinAmerica campaign.”

Some of the most active protesting appeared to take place at the Madison, Wisc. Apple store located in West Towne Mall. Madison, already at political activity Defcon 1 over the state governor's budget bill removing union negotiation privileges, may have been primed for such an action.

Madison, Wisc. Twitter user @annelyttle tweeted a string of photos, adding, "Nefarious #taxdodger #Apple keeps trying to kick us out of their store but we're coming in waves. #usuncut."

Naturally, some had fun at the expense of the protest.

Wisconsin-based conservative propaganda outlet The MacIver Institute tweeted a picture from the Madison protest with the message, "protest inside Apple Store in West Towne mall. Not only are they anti jobs, they're anti Steve Jobs!"

Another tweeted "I'm taking these photos of our #Apple store protest with my iPhone :) #irony #usuncut"

The iRe over Apple's support for the "tax holiday" comes just months after Apple made aggressive efforts to increase the brand's lobbying efforts in Washington D.C. In February it was revealed that Apple had retained the services of DC lobbying firm Fierce, Isakowitz and Blalock, which counts amongst its clients Delta Airlines, Ford, Coca-Cola and, eek, BP America.

Between 2001 and 2005, when when Apple began to eat everyone's lunch, its lobbying spend increased only slightly, from $500,000 a year to about $750,000. By 2008 it had more than doubled, to nearly $1.7 million. Last year it was actually down, to about $1.6 million. Its 2011 lobbyist spending is on track to reach that level.

More surprising, Apple, even as it crushed its competition, has never maintained a Political Action Committee (PAC), the campaign finance organ other corporations like Target insist they need to support pro-business policies. A January 2011 Open Secrets analysis of "PC vs. Apple" political action found it to be no contest, and that in terms of D.C. operations "it's Microsoft that comes out on top in this digital matchup."

Apple should tread very carefully within the beltway swamp. What will almost certainly not go over well with a lot of Apple fanboys (if they ever learn of it) is that the firm Apple has hired as its new lobbyist is a stockyard for former Bush administration and GOP veterans. A political action blunder could have severe marketplace consequences for the brand, such as Target learned this year when Lady Gaga abandoned a deal with the retailer over its political activity.

Pranksters in Germany, meanwhile, also punked an Apple store in Hamburg, on Friday — by sneaking the Microsoft Windows logo (which an eagle-eyed observer would have spotted as not exactly the right colors) on the store's exterior:

Comments

Xandro Australia says:

Maybe Apple has to start testing a new app:

GOVT MONITOR

Where governments are held accountable on how much they MISMANAGE the people's money. Here in Australia the money wasted in the billions could be traced back to each Deprtment and each politician stealing and taking money without authority.
Imagine if WE THE PEOPLE could trace back to the last dollar how much money Julia Gillard wasted in her broken promises!
Don't point the finger at corporations when Governments around the world do the same!
Don't critisise Apple for giving companies a business advantage.
The hypocracy has to stop.
Xandro
Sydney, Australia.

June 5, 2011 05:27 PM #

free wav to mp3 converter downloads United States says:

interesting and useful info! thanks!

June 6, 2011 06:34 AM #

dineshkigul India says:

thanks for sharing  such a nice video here .

June 6, 2011 09:37 AM #

Mike United States says:

Have these flash mob idiots ever received an education?  This will be a real shame if it has any impact on Apple's brand, which I doubt it will.  How is it wrong for a business to strive to be more competitive WITHIN THE CONFINES OF THE LAW?

June 6, 2011 11:52 AM #

Xandro Australia says:

Within the confines of the law?

What happens in Australia is simple - the Govt gets into bed with the
multi-nationals and everyone who cuts a deal with the Govt gets exactly that:

A deal to by-pass the laws.

The corruptions is sickening - when the Govt gives certain companies an advantage over another depending if they are either Liberal or Labor... ...and their competitive advantage is either wasted towards one side or made bigger towards the other.

The Labor Govt at the moment is in bed with the Mining Giants and they pay very little tax while smaller corporations are forced to pay tax through the nose just to make a little profit.

Have you checked out the value of the Australian dollar lately? Why is it so high and getting better and better than the US dollar everyday?

Back-room deals and corruption is vibrant here in Australia.

What laws?

June 11, 2011 08:53 PM #

Sam United States says:

Mike, they did get an education - and actually they are using it well. I'll explain to you how.

What you should wonder is if Apple execs were paying attention when they were in marketing class. When the vast majority of your enterprise value is accounting GOODWILL, you better have your act together ethically, because you are carrying a huge reputation RISK on your books. This means that whatever you are doing anywhere, you need to be able to defend to your customers as well as other stakeholders. If you dont, you are mismanaging that risk.

Clearly the activists DID receive an education - that's why they are targeting Apple: because they understand this underlying situation and Apples vulnerability to it.

June 7, 2011 09:30 AM #

Mike United States says:

I agree with everything you said with one fundamental exception, I don't view this as an unethical activity.  Not sure how anybody would.  Taxes are a business expense, just like anything else. Apple isn't dodging their tax liability.  They're simply lobbying for a change in tax code based on logic and reason.   They wouldn' be doing their jobs if they weren't trying to control this expense.  But I suppose a liberal arts degree doesn't teach that.

June 7, 2011 10:32 AM #

Sam United States says:

You're mixing two concepts - we need to separate them. Tax management is one specific job. But business management is in fact a SUPERSET of responsibility that includes tax management plus other things, including brand management.

Apple's accountants and tax lawyers are supposed to present Apple's execs with plans that show how they can extract every last penny of savings from tax planning. That is indeed their job. Its really a mathematical and legal job.

Apple's branding folks are supposed to provide Apple execs withan assessment by branding team of how the company should position itself towards it's FULL set of stakeholders (ie not just shareholders, but also customers) and how various actions by Apple can influence the perception and value of the brand that they are managing.

Apple's extremely well paid execs are supposed to take that information and make a decision that spans both the math and the ethics. In other words Apple execs need to take various information and then make a BUSINESS decision not a tax decision alone.

There is a difference between ethics and law. In many countries for example Germany there is no minimum wage, but clearly Apple would not go there and pay 1 Euro and hour, not just for reasons of law or even recrutiment but also ethics. That is a BUSINESS decision.

This tax issue is no different. BUSINESS leaders needs to earn their money by administering the value of their brand not by simply defaulting and abdicating decisions to their tax staff that in fact affect the value of the brand, which per definition is not the job of your tax people to manage.

In this light, I would say Apple's execs are asleep at the wheel, or they clearly didnt absorb everything they needed to absorb when they were in school. This is poor performance, not worthy of their rather generous compensation.

June 7, 2011 01:13 PM #

Xandro Australia says:

Sam... ...it is simple: one has to cut a deal with who ever is in power in any country in the world to get ahead... ...with or without the Apple App.
Just have a look at the advantages multi-nationals get here in Australia... ...anyone with an international logo can get just about anything they want while smaller organisations are left to pay higher taxes, higher tariffs, and more red tape depending on your political incline.
Forget the law here in Australia - it changes every couple of years depending on the Govt of the day.
The biggest problem here is that Federal laws often clash with the State Laws of each province or regional area.

June 11, 2011 08:59 PM #

Dave United States says:

Monies that Apple or any other firm desires to repatriate has already been taxed by the country they are operating in. This is simply an attempt to minimize double taxation. For those of you in the US with a State income tax, think of this as trying to minimize the IRS from taking part of your State refund.

June 7, 2011 05:35 PM #

Sam United States says:

So what? Every single American citizen by law is liable for US taxation on his or her worldwide income. You get some credit for taxes paid in certain countries with dual agreements, but in all cases if the US tax rate is higher, you must pay US tax,

So why should Apple or any other company be treated differently? Because they can pay for million dollary lobbyists and campaign "donations" that the average American cannot afford? Aaahhhhhh yes, precisely what is what is going on, as documented by the story above.

Well then, surely by now you grasp why this set of American citizens has chosen to protest against Apple, then.

This is what I mean when I say that:
a) this is a matter of top level business judgement, not tax management minutae and
b) that the law and ethics are NOT one and the same thing.

It's all fine and well to talk about big company management "talent" and all that. But in truth too many of these folks lack any sense of judgement whatsover.

June 7, 2011 06:23 PM #

Comments are closed

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