苹果公司的税务困境不会影响其成功(双语)

来源:中国会计视野 时间:2016-10-10 作者:Loizos Heracleous编辑:无忧草
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导读:凭借其580亿美元的市值,苹果依然是世界上最有价值的公司。

编者按:

苹果公司无疑是世界上最有价值的公司之一,尤其是它的手机(iphone)产品备受消费者的喜爱。在这个月刚不久才结束的苹果发布会上,其引起广泛关注的iPhone7已经问世。人们对它的热情还是一如既往的高涨,以至于现在还到处货源紧张。此时人们不禁会想,真的就没有什么能影响苹果的地位了吗?人们说苹果公司业务的增长太过于依赖其手机行业了,这就导致它的业绩很难有再有较大的发展,加之与爱尔兰的税务冲突等因素。是否意味着苹果将会走向衰退?但是毕竟只是猜想。如果要想了解更多具体内容,就请接着看看文章吧!

知识小科普啦:2014年6月欧盟委员会启动了对苹果的税务调查。欧盟怀疑苹果与爱尔兰政府达成“黑箱交易”,多年来享受低于2%的税率,从爱尔兰政府补贴中非法获利。其最终裁决也在今年的8月31日公布了,要求苹果公司偿还145亿美元的巨额税款。造成苹果公司的税务困境的主要因素是因为最近国际上出台了对合理避税新规定,以前不违法的避税行为现在也会变得违法,从而遭到罚款。(改编自腾讯新闻网)关于合理避税的问题我们上期已经谈到,大家可以去看看。

English version:

Apple tax woes won't tarnish its success

Loizos Heracleous,08September 2016

Apple doomsayers have a new arrow in their quiver.To add to the usual arguments that Apple’s success relies too much on the iPhone and that its growth cannot keep up with its historical levels,they can now also point to Apple’s run in with the EU over its Irish tax affairs.But this does not mean that Apple is doomed

With a market capitalisation of $580bn,it is still the most valuable company in the world,and for good reason.The excitement around its latest product launch is testament to Apple’s enduring popularity with consumers and investors alike.

The European Commission’s ruling that Apple’s tax arrangements with the Republic of Ireland amounted to “state aid”,and its requirement that Apple pays €13bn ($14.5bn)plus interest in back taxes to Irish government,have sparked debate on the current state of the global tax system,the rights and wrongs of corporate taxation,and the social role of corporations.Some have questioned Apple and other companies'use of global tax loopholes to minimise their tax payments.

It is worth remembering a few points,however.First,from a social responsibility perspective,Apple has had a production facility in Ireland since 1980,currently employs 6,000people there and indirectly supports close to 1.5m jobs in Europe.

Second,Apple (and Ireland)hold that their tax arrangement is not a special deal but is available to any corporation operating there that wishes to use it.

Third,global corporations have a duty to support their own viability as a competitive entity,and also to their shareholders,by optimising their tax obligations within the requirements set by law.Any CEO who decides to pay more than is legally due,would shortly find themselves in hot water with the board and the stock market.

Fourth,tax law has historically been set within the sovereign jurisdiction of states rather than of supranational bodies such as the EU.Nation states have employed favourable tax regimes to compete for inward investment from global corporations.The EU’s ruling,if it withstands the legal challenges,has significant implications for that sovereignty principle.

Deciding what’s fair

All of this is not to suggest that corporations should escape their fair share of tax.But how do we determine what is a “fair share”?Apple is a US company;it conducts almost all research and development for its products and services in the US,which is where it pays most tax.Like several other US corporations,Apple has chosen to delay the repatriation of its profits to the US,where they would be subject to an effective rate of 40%.

And Apple employs legal structures that are being employed by most global corporations to optimise its tax rate,within the limits set by the various legal jurisdictions where it operates,as it would be expected to by its shareholders and by the stock market.What is often ignored is that Apple is the largest taxpayer in Ireland,in the US,and in the world.

Apple’s tax issue will not harm its competitive success for a number of reasons.It will take several years for its appeal against the EU’s ruling to go through the legal system and there is a good chance that the amount may not be payable after all,at least at its current level.Both Apple and the Irish government will fight the EU decision –Ireland has said it does not want the money,since Apple complied with Irish tax law and so owes nothing.

Even if the amount is payable at some point in the future,Apple is financially strong enough to pay it without any long-term deterioration of its financial position or competitiveness.There are various estimates of Apple’s cash reserves,which are well over $200bn.The tax amount is large by any means,but Apple can pay it comfortably.

More than the iPhone

What Apple’s critics forget is that the company’s business model is not just hardware.The iPhone is at the centre of an ecosystem that includes apps,music,media,cloud storage,other services and other Apple hardware.This ecosystem is yet to be matched by competitors and it grants competitive differentiation and ability to employ premium pricing.

It is also an ecosystem that continues to expand –not only in terms of the products and services available,but also geographically.The middle classes in emerging markets are growing,and Apple is well placed competitively to benefit from this growth.Add to this the immense efficiency of Apple’s operations –which its main rivals are far from matching –and it becomes clearer why Apple is the most valuable company in the world.

The tax debate is an important one and it needs to take place.But choosing to make an example of a leading company because of its preeminence in the market,is not the solution.All global corporations minimise tax as a business cost.Nation states such as Ireland choose to have favourable tax regimes in order to compete for inward investment by global corporations.This is a basic way in which they grow their economy and support their society.Thus,the tax question is complex and cannot be settled by simple corporation-bashing.

中文版:

苹果公司的税务困境不会影响其成功

苹果公司(后文简称苹果)的灾难预言者寻找到了一个新的方向,除了一贯的论调“苹果的成功依赖于iPhone”,以及该公司的业务增长难以保持在历史水平之外,他们现在又将批评指向苹果与欧盟针对其在爱尔兰税务问题的冲突。但是,这并不意味着苹果将走向衰退。

凭借其580亿美元的市值,苹果依然是世界上最有价值的公司。大家对其新产品推出的兴奋,有力地证明了苹果在消费者和投资者当中经久不衰的影响力。

依据欧盟委员会的裁决,苹果与爱尔兰共和国的税务合约达成“政府援助”,并要求苹果支付130亿欧元(约合145亿美元)加上补缴的税款的利息给爱尔兰政府。该裁决结果引发了人们对当前全球税收制度状况、企业税的是与非,和企业的社会角色的讨论。有人质疑,苹果和其他公司的利用全球税收漏洞尽可能地去减少他们应缴纳的税款。

但是仍然有几点需要记住。首先,从社会责任的角度来看,苹果从1980年在爱尔兰设置生产车间,到目前为止已有员工6000余人,且间接地为欧洲带来了了约1500万个工作岗位。

第二,苹果公司(爱尔兰)坚称他们的税收合约并不是一个特例,而是面向任何一个希望使用它们的爱尔兰公司的。

第三,跨国公司有责任使他们自己作为一个有竞争力的实体而生存下来,对于它们的股东而言,其同样有责任在法律规定的范围内优化他们的纳税义务。要是一位首席执行官(CEO)决定支付超过法律规定的税额,那么不久他将发现自己陷入董事会和股市的水深火热中。

第四,税法历来属于各国的管辖权力内,而不是超国家的机构(如欧盟)的范围内。国家已经采用了优惠的税收制度以引入跨国公司的投资。如果欧盟的裁决面临法律的挑战,那这将对国家主权产生极大影响。

何为公平

所有这一切并不是说企业应该逃避自己的税收应有的份额。但是,我们该如何确定什么是“公平的份额”呢?苹果是一家美国公司;几乎所有产品和服务的研发设计都在美国,这也是税负最多的地区。像其他几家美国公司一样,苹果选择延迟将其利润转回美国,因为在那儿他们将面临40%的实际利率。

此外,苹果所使用的法律框架也是大多数的跨国企业所使用的,能够在各个不同的法律管辖区内达到最优税率,因为这是股东和股市所希望看到的。人们经常忽视的是,苹果公司是爱尔兰、美国、甚至全球的最大纳税人

苹果公司税务的问题不会损害其竞争方面的成功是有多方面原因的。苹果对欧盟裁决的上诉将需要数年来走完法律程序,很大程度上最终将无需支付这些税额,至少也会保持现在应付的数额。苹果和爱尔兰政府都会对欧盟的裁决提出上诉,爱尔兰已经表示,它们并不想要这笔罚金,因为苹果的行为合乎爱尔兰法律,所以它无需承担什么。

即使将来需要支付这笔罚金,苹果公司也有足够的经济能力去支付,并且不会引起其财务状况或竞争力的长期恶化。有许多关于苹果公司现金储备的预估,都远超2000亿美元。尽管这笔税款数额很大,但苹果可以轻松支付。

在iphone 之外

苹果的批判者所忘记的是,公司的商业模式涵盖的不仅仅是硬件。在包括应用程序,音乐,媒体,云存储等服务和其他苹果硬件所组成的生态系统当中,iPhone处于中心位置。这个生态系统还没有被竞争对手研发出匹配产品,它赋予苹果差异化竞争和溢价能力。

它也是一个不断扩大的生态系统,不仅对于产品和可用的服务而言,同样也是对于地理位置而言。位于新兴市场的中产阶级消费者正在不断增长,苹果完全有竞争力从这一阶层的增长中受益。加上苹果公司巨大的运营效率,这是其主要竞争对手无法超越的,这也解释了为什么苹果公司是世界上最有价值的公司。

关于税收的辩论是重要的,也是必要的。但是因一个领军企业在市场上的突出地位而将其作为例子,并不是解决方法。税收作为一项企业成本,所有的跨国企业都希望尽量减少它。国家政府(如爱尔兰)选择采用优惠的税收制度以引进来自跨国公司的外来投资。这是他们发展经济,维持社会发展的根本途径。因此,税收的问题是复杂的,并且不能简单地归结于对某一公司的抨击。

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