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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Apple Faces Senate Questions On Taxes

Apple CEO Tim Cook arrives on Capitol Hill, in Washington, Tuesday, May 21, 2013, to testify before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Permanent subcommittee on Investigations. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Apple CEO Tim Cook arrives on Capitol Hill, in Washington, Tuesday, May 21, 2013, to testify before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Permanent subcommittee on Investigations. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Apple’s CEO is disputing assertions by a Senate panel that the company avoids billions of dollars in U.S. taxes by shifting profits to foreign affiliates.

Tim Cook testified at a hearing Tuesday by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, which released a report Monday attacking Apple’s tax practices.

“We pay all the taxes we owe – every single dollar,” Cook said. “We don’t depend on tax gimmicks.”

Cook, who is more accustomed to commanding a stage in front of investors and techies than facing a congressional committee, took a defensive tone with his opening statement.

He punched out words when stressing the 600,000 jobs that the company supports while adding that Apple is the nation’s largest corporate taxpayer. Cook advocated an overhaul of the U.S. tax code.

At the same time, Cook said he was happy to appear in the spotlight of a congressional hearing to be able to give Apple’s side of the story.

“I’m saying it’s who we are as people. … Wherever we are, we’re an American company,” Cook insisted when asked about Apple’s use of affiliate companies in Ireland.

The $6 billion in taxes that Apple says it paid in fiscal 2012 works out to $16 million a day.

The subcommittee’s report estimates that Apple avoided at least $3.5 billion in U.S. federal taxes in 2011 and $9 billion in 2012 by using its tax strategy, and described a complex setup involving Irish subsidiaries as being a key element of this strategy.

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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