When Apple CEO Tim Cook was called in last week to face the wrath of lawmakers on Capitol Hill who wonder how Apple sheltered $44 billion from taxes, he got more than a warm reception. He got an apology.
“I frankly think the committee should apologize to Apple,” Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky said during a hearing of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. “I’m offended by the spectacle of dragging in executives from an American company that is not doing anything illegal.”
The subcommittee had released a report that found Apple had funneled money through three offshore shell companies to avoid billions in taxes. But Paul blamed Congress for writing a convoluted federal tax code. He failed to mention that many legislators essentially represent large corporations who use money and lobbyists to shape our elections and tax laws to their advantage.
“[Paul’s apology] kind of reminds me of when Joe Barton (R-Texas) apologized to BP [in 2010] after they ruined the Gulf [of Mexico] with their oil [spill],” Rep. Keith Ellison said Saturday on msnbc’s The Ed Show.
“Taxes are not a punishment. Taxes are the dues we pay to live in a civilized society,” Ellison said. “Apple wouldn’t be a multi-billion dollar corporation but for the fact that the United States of America made it possible for them to be that successful.”
Ellison contends small businesses are unfairly shouldering the burden for the rest of the corporate sector.
“If you’re a coffee shop or you’re a small manufacturing business,” Ellison said, “you may have to pay all of your taxes because you don’t have a lobbyist to get out of them like Apple and some of the other ones do.”
The subcommittee’s hearing came as the U.S. Internal Revenue Service is under investigation for targeting conservative political groups. But it is conservatives in Congress who protect corporations from paying their fair share of taxes.