Wozniak: Criticism of Apple tax strategy 'extremely warranted'
Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak feels the recent public scrutiny of the iPhone maker's tax strategies is entirely justified, saying that the corporate tax rules in America are "really not fair."
Wozniak spoke at a conference in Northern Ireland on Thursday, saying that the tax system needs to be reworked to put corporations on the same level as people, according to The Telegraph. Criticism of Apple's tax practices, the Apple co-founder said, is warranted because corporations have more leeway than ordinary people when it comes to taxes.
"Apple itself," Wozniak said, "you'd think, would say, 'My gosh, there's systems. We have to go for it the way we can maximize our profits."
That goal of profit maximization, he said, could lead corporations to do things that might be considered unethical if an individual did so.
"For a corporation," Wozniak opined, "there's no such thing as personal ethics. It's like you will do anything, any scheme you can, to maximize your profits."
The solution, Wozniak said, is to equalize taxation between people and corporations. People are taxed on income, while corporations are taxed on their profits.
"That is why the rich get richer and the poor get poorer," Wozniak said, "and I am always for the individual being much more important than their training; same reason I created Apple computer at the start, it was to empower the little guy."
Legislatures should, according to Wozniak, remake the laws so that both groups are taxed by the same metric.
"Why do businessmen get to write off lunches and cars? If normal people did they would have more savings.
"That is really not fair, that businesses are not treated the same as people.
"A person would say, 'my life is my business and I have to pay for my home, pay for my clothes, my food and what is left over if I make a little money some year and put it in savings, that is my profit', but people are not taxed on profit, they are taxed on income."
Wozniak, who has not worked at Apple in decades, remains a faithful Apple fan and general booster of technology. He is also well known for his frequent, colorful remarks on the affairs of the company he helped create.
His comments, at their core, may be similar to what Apple CEO Tim Cook prescribed when he defended Apple's policies before a Senate panel. Both men call for a simplification of the tax code, but Cook's main point before the Senate was that the code should be simplified downward, in the form of lower corporate taxes.
Apple, Cook said, pays every dollar it owes in taxes. Overseas revenues, though, the company routes through an Ireland-based subsidiary, so as to avoid the United States' 35 percent corporate tax rate.
For domestic earnings, Cook called for the U.S. corporate tax rate to drop to roughly 25 percent. For international earnings, Cook was less specific, though he said that the rate "would have to be a single-digit number."
Wozniak's talk covered a range of other topics, including both education and wearable technology, according to Alan in Belfast. Apple CEO Tim Cook may not have much faith in Glass, but Wozniak was quite interested in the technology.
"I am getting so jealous," Wozniak said. "I don't know if the marketing plan was ripe to hit someone like myself or not... I haven't had time to be a full explorer with that, so I didn't get the Google Glasses yet, but boy that's starting to seem like an interesting thing that I sure want to try."
The Apple co-founder also opined on the viability of an Apple smartwatch, which is thought to be in development.
"I also don't mind the idea of a watch, as long as the watch is my smartphone that I can basically do all my smartphone stuff on including asking Siri questions. Wouldn't mind a watch, but if all it's going to be is pretty much music and measuring how many steps I walk per day, nah, that wouldn't be enough."