Tech giant Apple used a "complex web of offshore entities" to avoid paying billions of dollars in taxes in the U.S., a congressional investigation has found.
In a statement Monday, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations said:
"Apple's claim[ed] ... three key offshore companies are not tax residents of Ireland, where they are incorporated, or of the United States, where Apple executives manage and control the companies. One of those Irish subsidiaries has paid no income taxes to any national tax authority for the past five years."
"Apple wasn't satisfied with shifting its profits to a low-tax offshore tax haven," said Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., who chairs the panel. "Apple sought the Holy Grail of tax avoidance. It has created offshore entities holding tens of billions of dollars, while claiming to be tax resident nowhere."
The Senate subcommittee holds a hearing Tuesday on the company's practices.
Sen. John McCain, the panel's ranking member, called Apple "among America's largest tax avoiders."
The subcommittee's statement detailed some of Apple's practices:
"Apple established at the apex of its offshore network an offshore holding company that it says is not tax resident in any nation. That subsidiary, Apple Operations International, has no employees and no physical presence, but keeps its bank accounts and records in the United States and holds its board meetings in California. It was incorporated in Ireland in 1980, and is owned and controlled by the U.S. parent company, Apple Inc. Ireland asserts tax jurisdiction only over companies that are managed and controlled in Ireland, but the United States bases tax residency on where a company is incorporated. Exploiting the gap between the two nations' tax laws, Apple Operations International has not filed an income tax return in either country, or any other country, for the past five years. From 2009 to 2012, it reported income totaling $30 billion."
Another example offered by the panel:
"A second Irish subsidiary claiming not to be a tax resident anywhere is Apple Sales International which, from 2009 to 2012, had sales revenue totaling $74 billion. The company appears to have paid taxes on only a tiny fraction of that income, resulting, for example, in an effective 2011 tax rate of only five hundreds of one percent. The third Irish subsidiary is Apple Operations Europe. In addition to creating non-tax resident affiliates, Apple Inc. has utilized U.S. tax loopholes to avoid U.S. taxes on $44 billion in otherwise taxable offshore income over the past four years, or about $10 billion in tax avoidance per year."
Levin and McCain plan to issue a 40-page memorandum with findings and recommendations on Tuesday. Among those testifying at the hearing are Apple CEO Tim Cook and other top executives at the company.
Our colleague Andy Carvin has scanned Twitter in search of reaction, including photos and video, from the massive tornado that swept through central Oklahoma on Monday.
Among the tweets:
Sidney Montoya of Oklahoma City says he is "Praying for my little cousins in Moore, their elementary school just got hit by the tornado."
And Dennis Varghese, who also lives in Oklahoma City, says: "Just overheard a lady break down and say, 'my house is gone!' and now worrying about her kids. Please pray."
A warning that some of the language below on Andy's Storify page could be offensive to some of our readers.
NBC News has put together a time-lapse video of the EF-4 tornado that tore through the southern suburbs of Oklahoma City, Okla.
As we told you in the live blog, the National Weather Service says it was at least an EF-4 tornado with winds in excess of 166 mph. The tornado stayed on the ground for 40 minutes and traveled 20 miles.
It's another bad day for the Justice Department.
A federal judge in Louisiana has thrown out the central criminal charge against a former BP executive because prosecutors failed to prove he knew about a pending congressional investigation into oil flowing into the Gulf of Mexico three years ago. U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt also ruled that a Democratic House member who inquired about the oil flow rate was acting as head of a subcommittee, not a full congressional committee, as required under the federal Obstruction of Justice statute.
The judge's ruling dismisses half of the BP Task Force prosecution against David Rainey, the highest ranking official at the British oil giant to be charged with a crime in connection with the spill and explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig. Eleven men died there in April 2010.
Brian Heberlig, a lawyer for Rainey, told NPR in an email statement that "we are very pleased with the Court's thoughtful and well-reasoned opinion dismissing the main charge in the indictment."
The original grand jury indictment said Rainey failed to share accurate information about the oil flow rate during a briefing with members of Congress and their staff only weeks after the spill, and that he helped prepare a misleading response to Massachusetts Democrat Rep. Ed Markey about flow rate estimates.
But the judge ruled that "it is not enough that the indictment obliquely suggest that the defendant was aware of a request emanating from some person or group associated with Congress."
He added: "Because it is an essential element of this crime that the defendant knew of this inquiry and investigation, the indictment must allege such knowledge. It does not."
A Justice Department spokesman said prosecutors are reviewing the ruling and declined to comment further "at this time." Authorities have the option of appealing the ruling or refashioning their indictment. The judge's decision left in place a second charge against Rainey, for allegedly making false statements about the oil flow rate in an April 2011 interview with law enforcement agents.
Lawyers who represent people in front of Congress are already taking note of the decision.
Washington lawyer Stanley Brand says "it's certainly significant from a congressional standpoint for future cases."
"For obstruction purposes," Brand says, "it has to be an officially authorized investigation and what that means is, you've got to have the chair and you've got to have the majority otherwise it's just a rump exercise for the purposes of the law."