Congress Can Make Apple Pay Any Taxes It Wants To

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.


Sen. Rand Paul, obviously trying to follow up on the roaring success of his “Stand With Rand” filibuster, decided to go all #slatepitchy yesterday during hearings that revealed the stupendous extent of Apple’s tax avoidance strategies:

I am offended by the tone and tenor of this hearing. I am offended by a $4 trillion government bullying, berating and badgering one of America’s greatest success stories.

….I am offended by the spectacle of dragging in here executives from an American company that is not doing anything illegal. If anyone should be on trial here, it should be Congress.

I frankly think the Committee should apologize to Apple. I frankly think Congress should be on trial here for creating a bizarre and byzantine tax code that runs into the tens of thousands of pages, for creating a tax code that simply doesn’t compete with the rest of the world.

I’m amused that a congressional investigation becomes “bullying, berating and badgering” when the topic happens to be taxes, but I’ll allow Paul his histrionics. Because, roughly speaking, he’s right. Congress sets the rules, and if they want to make sure Apple pays its taxes, all they have to do is write laws that require it.

That said, Paul’s outrage is more than a little hard to take here since it’s people like him that have been so successful at preventing Congress from writing a decent corporate tax code in the first place. His only concern is slashing taxes, not rationalizing them, and if someone introduced a bill to make Apple pay its fair share into the voracious federal maw, Paul would undoubtedly be grandstanding yet again with another filibuster. He doesn’t really deserve to be taken very seriously on this subject.

Still, it’s true that, in theory, Congress can address this anytime it wants. They set the rules, and they don’t really have much standing to complain when companies exploit those rules to pay as little in taxes as possible. After all, what do you expect them to do?

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest