Tech giant Apple moved offshore funds to the Channel Islands after a crackdown on tax laws in Ireland, according to reports.
The company is alleged to have rearranged its affairs, moving the firm holding most of its untaxed overseas cash to Jersey, after changes were made to controversial Irish tax practices, the BBC and Guardian said.
The claims are the latest to emerge from the Paradise Papers leak, which has seen major companies and public figures linked in reports to secretive overseas arrangements. There is no suggestion that those involved acted illegally.
Apple said the new structure did not reduce tax payments in any country and “ensured that our tax obligation to the United States was not reduced”.
The company said in a statement: “The debate over Apple’s taxes is not about how much we owe but where we owe it.
“As the largest taxpayer in the world we’ve paid over 35 billion dollars in corporate income taxes over the past three years, plus billions of dollars more in property tax, payroll tax, sales tax and VAT.
“We believe every company has a responsibility to pay the taxes they owe and we’re proud of the economic contributions we make to the countries and communities where we do business.”
Until 2014, Apple channelled sales outside of America through Irish companies, which kept taxes low.
But the arrangement was the subject of an investigation by the EU Commission and resulted in a crackdown on practices in Ireland.
Paradise Papers documents show Apple’s two key Irish subsidiaries, Apple Operations International and Apple Sales International, were managed by Bermuda-based legal firm Appleby’s office in Jersey from the start of 2015 until early 2016, the BBC said.
The majority of the leaked Paradise Papers come from Appleby, which specialises in offshore accounts.
Apple said: “When Ireland changed its tax laws in 2015, we complied by changing the residency of our Irish subsidiaries and we informed Ireland, the European Commission and the United States.
“The changes we made did not reduce our tax payments in any country. In fact, our payments to Ireland increased significantly and over the last three years we’ve paid 1.5 billion dollars in tax there – 7% of all corporate income taxes paid in that country.
“Our changes also ensured that our tax obligation to the United States was not reduced.”
It added: “We understand that some would like to change the tax system so multinationals’ taxes are spread differently across the countries where they operate, and we know that reasonable people can have different views about how this should work in the future.
“At Apple we follow the laws, and if the system changes, we will comply.”