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Apple sent billions offshore to avoid Australia tax: report

SYDNEY--Apple shifted billions in untaxed profits from its Australian operations to Ireland over the past decade, a report said Thursday, as the government vowed to stop global companies from dodging their fair share of tax.

An investigation by the Australian Financial Review obtained 10 years worth of financial accounts for Apple Sales International — an arm of the organization it described as the “secretive” Irish company at the heart of the group's global tax arrangements.

The newspaper said the U.S. tech giant moved an estimated AU$8.9 billion (US$8.1 billion) in untaxed profits from Australia to a tax haven structure in Ireland, paying just 0.7 percent of its turnover in tax.

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

Apple in Australia declined to comment to AFP, but the company has previously said it has complied with the law and done everything required by the tax office. There is no suggestion it has done anything illegal.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said in response to the report that the government was determined to recover tax that companies have inappropriately avoided and that Canberra was pursing the issue through the G-20.

“Businesses operating around the world are not necessarily paying their fair share of tax where they're earning their profits,” he said, without naming any firm.

“Our view is, and that is a view that's shared around the world, businesses should pay their fair share of tax where they earn profits.”

Trade Minister Andrew Robb added to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation: “In most cases the companies are doing what is legal, but is it fair?

“Is it what they should do as companies that are benefiting greatly from the Australian commerce?

“No they're not, and we've got to look in a global sense at how to tackle this problem, that's why it's on at the G-20.”

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