The Australian Tax Office (ATO) has reportedly sought to collect AU$28.5 million in back taxes from tech giant Apple in a sign that the government is cracking down on foreign tech companies.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported over the weekend that statements lodged with the corporate regulator show that Apple's Australian arm was hit with an AU$28.5 million bill for back taxes in April this year. According to the report, Apple Australia pulled in AU$4.9 billion in revenue in the last year, and its total tax bill to September 24, 2011, was AU$94.7 million.
According to figures released this year, Apple earned non-US profits of US$36.87 billion for the 2012 financial year ending September, and only paid US$713 million in overseas taxes.
Google came under criticism earlier this year, when it was revealed that Google said its Australian division is making a loss. The company only paid AU$74,176 in taxes in the last financial year, despite estimations that Australia is worth around AU$1 billion to Google every year.
Legislation regarding transfer pricing rules was passed earlier this year. The change aims to make it tougher for multinational companies such as Apple and Google to transfer their money out of Australia to a country with a lower corporate tax rate, such as Ireland.
It comes as Apple also faces increasing pressure from politicians in Australia to front up to an inquiry into premium pricing on technology products in Australia. Although Apple's product pricing in Australia is now generally in line with prices in the US — after taking into account the GST — the company has been reluctant to make a public appearance at the hearing. The Cupertino, California, giant may be compelled to appear before the committee by the parliament.