Apple's missing tax millions

Tim Cook, Apple CEO (Getty)
Tim Cook, Apple CEO (Getty)

Labour says the Government is asleep at the wheel when it comes to multinationals avoiding tax.

It's been revealed Apple, which dominates almost a third of the New Zealand smartphone market, not to mention its personal computer and gadget lines, hasn't paid tax in New Zealand for a decade.

Labour's revenue spokesperson Michael Wood says as late as last year, Revenue Minister Judith Collins was denying the tax take was missing.

"This is a minister that was very happy to make her name calling up 17-year-olds in souped-up street cars, but she won't call up Apple when they're diddling every single New Zealand taxpayer over."

Labour is looking at introducing a diverted profit tax to clamp down on multinationals - a levy on profits that have been registered offshore, rather than in the country they were generated in.

Mr Wood says the Government is letting multinationals off the hook, while clamping down on everyday Kiwis.

"Everyone should be paying their fair share of tax. If you're a nurse or a teacher, you work in an office or you've got a small business, you pay your fair share of tax. If you don't, the IRD comes after you."

The Government has introduced plans to crack down on multinationals, with Ms Collins saying the proposals have "significant teeth" but won't drive big companies away.

Apple sold 221,000 phones in New Zealand in the three months to December, according to IDC - overtaking rival Samsung for the first time since 2012.

Apple is the world's largest and most profitable company. In the past decade, a Herald investigation found despite $4.2 billion in New Zealand sales, the company only paid $37 million in tax - but this was sent to Australia.

The Herald estimates if Apple's global profit margins were applied to its New Zealand sales, it should have paid around $356 million.

Apple in a statement said it is a "force for good" and complied with tax laws everywhere it operated.

Other tech companies, such as Facebook, have also been accused of shuffling profits offshore to avoid paying tax.

Last year Facebook paid $43,000 in tax - about the same as a single doctor or lawyer would - despite revenue of $1.2 million.

Google paid $361,542 despite $14.9 million of revenue, while Apple paid $9 million despite revenue of $732 million.