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Apple "Misled" IT Inquiry: Labor MP

By Oonagh Reidy | Thursday | 30/05/2013

Did Apple lead MP's up the garden path? Vociferous Labor MP accuse tech giant of misleading parliamentary inquiry.

Ed Husic, Labor MP for Chifley, says Apple "misled" MP's at a recent IT pricing inquiry "intentionally or accidentally", by claiming its US parent set the local prices in Oz, but told a US Senate inquiry a different story, last week. 

"I'd call on Apple Australia to either correct the record or provide further details as to the way it actually prices its products for Australian consumers," the Chifley MP, a vociferous campaigner against high IT prices here, told Federal parliament yesterday. 

Apple's VP for Australia, NZ and Asia, Tony King denied price gouging Australians when called before the It inquiry in March. 

He claimed Apple's US parent distributes goods to local entities and international parties determined prices of goods. 

Did Apple lead MP's up the garden path?

Husic claims this is misleading, pointing to the recent inquiry by the US Senate into Apple's tax affairs, where the US giant claimed hardware prices are "determined by Apple Singapore."

"The corporate structure detailed in the US Senate report was never offered by Apple Australia and when pressed on its transfer pricing or price setting. I put it to the house that Apple deliberately avoided setting out the detail that became evident in the US report," Husic told MP's. 

King blamed currency rates, tax differences among other factors to blame for charging far higher prices for iPhones, iPad, iTunes, compared to the US and overseas. 

In fact, Apple's Australia VP claimed prices of popular iPads, iPhones, iPods and Macs were, on average, just 5% higher than the US, based on calculations conducted by Apple based on currency rates. 

MP Husic also pointed to the astonishing low rate of taxes Apple pays - forking out just $40m in tax on $6bn revenues, reports The Guardian. 

The accusations by Husic came as Apple fights criticism from the US and UK governments about its tax affairs, which sees it pay minimal tax on billions earned, hiving revenues to offshore ghost companies called Apple Operations International and Apple Sales International, in Ireland. 

But Apple isn't paying a lot of tax there either, it appears, and has no tax residence - not in Ireland, where they are incorporated nor in the United States, according to a US Senate report. 

Apple boss Tim Cook claims it had a secret agreement to pay minimal tax (2%) on its earnings with the Irish government, something the Irish PM, Enda Kenny, is vehemently denying. 

The US tech giants including Adobe, Apple and Microsoft were summonsed to appear before the IT pricing inquiry in Canberra by MP's.

Adobe has since dropped their Aussie pricing significantly after getting a bad PR rap. 

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