Apple, the world’s friendliest technology company, stands accused of tax avoidance. The fashionable corners of Fleet Street, bless them, are appalled. Isn’t Apple supposed to be in the good business? What gives?
Mr Steerpike bumped into one of the late Steve Jobs’ former lieutenants not so long ago, and he provided an explanation. There was a time when Microsoft was driving Apple into the dirt and the company nearly went bust. Apple, he said, remembers its unhappy past and hoards cash under the mattress. This is why the company is sitting on cash reserves of £67 billion in Nevada. As the ageing hipster put it:
‘It’s like your grandmother who lived through the war: no morsel of food goes to waste and everything gets squirrelled away in the jam cupboard.’
But taxmen are like ants: they always find their way into the jam cupboard. And, given the state of public finances in the West, the queen ants are ravenous.