In case you haven’t heard yet, the Apple Corporation has agreed to pay Ireland over fifteen billion dollars in back taxes. Yes, that’s billion with a “b.” When I first read this, I assumed it was some kind of joke or satirical essay. Nope. It’s real.
This whole thing is surprising on many levels (most of which I don’t have the room to discuss here). I find that my meager, little brain has a hard time comprehending what’s happening here.
First of all, how can anyone (even a mamoth corporation) accumulate a tax debt that large? Hasn’t Ireland ever heard of withholding? The US Government discovered this little trick eons ago. You’d think the secret would have leaked across the waters before this.
A Random Act of Kindness
Secondly, why is Ireland being forced to do this? According to my sources (the general media), this is not something they actually wanted to do. I’ve never heard of such altruism on the part of ANY government. They should just be left alone. When something good happens, shouldn’t we simply call it a random act of kindness and leave it at that?
The most mystifying part of all this is Apple itself. Why in the world have they agreed to pay all that money? If the Irish don’t really want it, stick it in your back pocket (or maybe more appropriately, your back vault). The only thing I can figure can be summed up in the old saying, “If you’ve got it, flaunt it.”
Apple undoubtedly has the moolah. They certainly have plenty of mine to work with. Most people I know have Apple phones, as I do. Every computer I see in movies and on TV shows (as well as on my desk at home) is an Apple. iPods, iPads, and iWhatevers abound everywhere. Apple has to be rolling in the dough (or else they’re wasting a lot of pocket change). In any case, they’re brandishing it now.
Or maybe…just maybe…the bigwigs at Apple have finally “got religion.” Stop chuckling and hear me out. Jesus once told the Pharisees to “give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s.” (Luke 20:25) Could it be that the fat cats are feeling guilty? Could it be that their consciences have gotten the best of them?
Caesar, in the time of Christ, was the Big Kahuna. He was the monarch of monarchs. He was the dictator to end all dictators. In other words, he was the government. Jesus, in no uncertain terms, was telling the Pharisees that it was okay to pay their taxes—even to the hated Romans.
So, it looks like the guys and gals at Apple are doing the right, and Biblical thing. They’re ponying up. Ireland doesn’t want it, the EU (European Union) says they’ve got to collect it, and Apple is getting out the checkbook.
It’s kind of funny in a way. It’s usually the corporations that are getting accused of being greedy. I guess there are a few governments that aren’t all that far behind.
[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and is currently pastor of Smith Chapel in Great Falls, VA.]