Tim Cook doesn't often lose his cool, but he got surprisingly riled up while discussing claims that Apple is doing its best to avoid paying taxes on overseas earnings during an interview with 60 Minutes' Charlie Rose. "That is total political crap," Cook says. "There's no truth behind it. Apple pays every tax dollar we owe."
"This is a tax code, Charlie, that was made for the industrial age."
Rose was pressing Cook on why Apple leaves billions of dollars overseas, more "probably than any other American company," Rose notes. Cook was questioned on this matter two years ago in front of Congress, and he repeats a lot of the points that he made back then: namely, that he thinks it costs too much to bring money back to the US.
"It would cost me 40 percent to bring it home, and I don't think that's a reasonable thing to do," Cook says. "This is a tax code, Charlie, that was made for the industrial age, not the digital age. It's backward. It's awful for America. It should have been fixed many years ago. It's past time to get it done." When speaking at the 2013 Senate hearing, Cook said that the US tax rate from transferring overseas earnings "would need to be a single-digit number" before Apple brought its money back. About two-thirds of Apple's revenue comes from international sales.
The issue was specifically over Apple's international holding companies, which rely, to some extent, on US employees to function. Senators had questioned whether these were "functionally managed and controlled in the US," and, if so, whether Apple ought to be paying US taxes on them. The debate has quieted down in the time since, and Ireland — where one of its major holding companies was based — is beginning to close a major tax loophole that companies used to minimize payments.
Cook's comments come as part of a larger interview with 60 Minutes that'll be airing on Sunday. The show will also be stepping inside of Apple's design lab with Jony Ive and taking an early look at a new Apple store design with Angela Ahrendts. Apple's polished public persona tends to make its media appearances tame and constructed, but this clip suggests that Rose may get some unexpected moments out of them. Cook will also discuss privacy and encryption on the show, although it sounds like he's sticking more to talking points. The segment airs at 7:30PM ET this Sunday on CBS.