Apple's Tim Cook Staunchly Defends Corporate Tax Payments

In an interview with 60 Minutes, Apple CEO Tim Cooks defends how the company pays its corporate taxes and calls criticism of the tech firm "political crap." There's also a behind-the-scenes look with Jony Ive.



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In an upcoming interview on CBS' 60 Minutes news program, Apple CEO Tim Cook takes aim at critics leveling charges at the company over its payment of corporate taxes, calling the criticism "political crap."

When asked by interviewer Charlie Rose how he felt when being called by politicians that the company is a tax avoider, Cook responded by saying that Apple pays more taxes in America than anyone.

Rose responded by affirming that Washington knows this, and that the taxes the company pays are fair because of how much money Apple rakes in.

"I don't deny that -- we happily pay it," Cook responded. He also pointed out a lot of their money is overseas because two-thirds of their business comes from outside the United States.

When asked by Rose why he wouldn't bring that money back home, Cook said he would love to, but won't because it would cost him 40% of the total sum to do so.

(Image: EdStock/iStockphoto)

(Image: EdStock/iStockphoto)

"I don't think that's a reasonable thing to do," Cook explained. "This is a tax code, Charlie, that was made for the industrial age, not the digital age. It's backwards, it's awful for America. It should have been fixed many years ago. It's past time to get it done."

Rose then brought up the idea, proposed by some politicians, that Apple is in fact "engaged in sophisticated scheme to pay little or no corporate taxes on $74 billion in revenues held overseas," to which an increasingly animated Cook shot down immediately.

"That is total political crap," Cook said. "There's no truth behind it. Apple pays every tax dollar we owe."

The Apple story will be broadcast on 60 Minutes Sunday, Dec. 20, at 7:30 p.m. Eastern Time and 7 p.m. Pacific Time, and will also include a rare behind-the-scenes interview and tour with Jony Ive, Apple's design chief, who let the news crew's cameras into his studio for a look at the process that gave birth to products like the iPhone and iPad.

The interview with Cook also touches on consumer privacy issues, though the 60 Minutes website notes the interview was conducted before the terror attacks in Paris, where terrorists used encrypted messages as a means of communication.

Cook said he was against the idea of a so-called "back door," a surveillance term that would give government agencies -- and theoretically anyone smart enough to unlock it -- access to personal communications.

[Read how Tim Cook defends the iPhone's battery life.]

"There have been people that suggest that we should have a back door. But the reality is if you put a back door in, that back door's for everybody, for good guys and bad guys," Cook explained. "I don't believe that the trade off here is privacy versus national security. I think that's an overly simplistic view. We're America. We should have both."

Earlier this year, Cook gave an impassioned speech on defending consumer privacy and encryption, while being honored for corporate leadership by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC).

In addition to leveling charges at companies who use their users' data for profit -- he didn't name names, but Google, Facebook, and Twitter would all fit into that business model -- he blasted Washington politicians and claimed taking away encryption would have a "chilling effect" on Americans' First Amendment rights.

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Nathan Eddy is a freelance writer for InformationWeek. He has written for Popular Mechanics, Sales & Marketing Management Magazine, FierceMarkets, and CRN, among others. In 2012 he made his first documentary film, The Absent Column. He currently lives in Berlin. View Full Bio

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