Coburn ‘livid’ over Apple dodging taxes

Sen. Tom CoburnThomas (Tom) Allen CoburnThe Hill's Campaign Report: Trump, Biden spar over coronavirus response Senator Tom Coburn's government oversight legacy Remembering Tom Coburn's quiet persistence MORE (R-Okla.) said Tuesday that he is "livid" over a New York Times story detailing how Apple avoids billions of dollars in taxes.

"Why should Apple pay at 10 percent and some other company that can't export their technology ... why are they paying 35 percent?" Coburn asked during an appearance on MSNBC's "Morning Joe."

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Coburn said he sent a letter to Sen. Carl LevinCarl Milton LevinSenator Tom Coburn's government oversight legacy The Trumpification of the federal courts Global health is the last bastion of bipartisan foreign policy MORE (D-Mich.) saying they have "to take a look" at how Apple pays such a low rate.

The GOP senator said Congress should reform the tax code and "get rid of the loopholes."

"Let's lower the rates, let's broaden the base, let's eliminate a lot of deductions," he said.


The New York Times article explained that Apple funnels its profits through subsidiaries in places including Ireland, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and the British Virgin Islands to avoid paying high taxes.

The company paid just $3.3 billion in income taxes worldwide on $34.2 billion in profits in 2011.

In a statement to The Times, Apple emphasized that it employees 47,000 full-time workers across the country and pays billions of dollars in state and federal taxes, including taxes on stock profits. 

"Morning Joe" co-host Mika Brzezinski pressed Coburn on whether he would support a tax holiday to encourage companies to return their profits to the United States. 

"I would do anything I could to send a signal to business that we want capital invested in this country," he said, and then explicitly agreed that he would support a tax holiday.

Brzezinski pointed out that in 2004, many companies took advantage of a tax holiday but failed to invest in the United States or produce new jobs.

"I agree, and so if you do that, you have to have hard controls on where the money goes," Coburn said. "But you can't just do that, you've got to reform the tax code."