Last week, Apple became the first US company to be valued at $1 trillion by market capitalisation, thanks in part to its relentless control over money as well as its impact in the technology market. It turns out that the firm has appealed its tax assessments nearly 500 times in the past 14 years, with its latest arguing that the buildings within its headquarters are valued at just $200, therefore warranting a tax reduction.
Apple’s latest effort matches other companies in Silicon Valley, who are trying to convince governing bodies that the equipment it uses are worth a lot less than tax assessors have reported. Although this includes lab equipment and computers, The San Francisco Chronicle states that Apple is arguing that its $1 billion-valued Apple Park in Cupertino and other million-dollar valued properties are actually worth $200 each.
This is the latest in Apple’s relentless battle with taxes, with 489 tax disputes under its belt since 2004. The aim, according to Apple, is to claim back as much as it can from the $8.5 billion in property value it has contested over the years.
“The megacorporations have enough resources and money to wear a county down to lower their taxes by appealing, appealing, appealing,” Contra Costa County assessor Gus Kramer told the publication. “How much will a company pay in attorneys’ fees and expert witnesses for a potential payday of $100 million? They’ve spent millions, but there’s millions at stake.”
Having paid $56 million in taxes in the 2017-2018 fiscal year, Apple will still remain the largest tax payer in Santa Clara County, however a win in its case could see millions of dollars in back pay funnel from the County. Apple will be joined in its efforts against the County by Genentech and Walgreens, who have disputed 653 and 60 assessments each, worth $19bn and $2.2bn in property value respectively.
KitGuru Says: Given Apple’s track record, this isn’t too surprising, although it is far from the only firm indulging in aggressive tactics to improve its bottom line. That being said, attempting to reduce the estimation from billions to hundreds does seem a bit of a gross underestimation by any standard.