Render Unto Caesar…

Google’s Paris Headquarters was raided by French authorities

google-doodle-winners-2012-grade-10-12-5

I get it.

I TOTALLY get it. Paying taxes sucks, especially for the little guy, but when you’re a large corporation like Google, you’re expected to pay what the government thinks is your fair share.  When you don’t, the government may pay an unannounced visit and confiscate a bunch of data looking for information to support their ascertain that you aren’t.

On 2016-05-24, that’s what happened to Google in Paris, France.

Google’s Paris headquarters was raided by French authorities at 5am local time (11am EDT) by 100 investigators.  Based on an investigation that began nearly a year ago, information supporting tax evasion and money laundering was sought, according to Reuters.

French authorities are seeking nearly $1.76B in back taxes from Google and indicated that Google has “very aggressive” tax avoidance techniques.  Large corporations like Google often take advantage of loopholes in tax laws to avoid paying taxes in the US. This process often involves a number of different techniques including keeping cash in offshore banks to avoid paying larger sums in taxes.

According to Digital Trends, commonly employed methods include the “Double Irish” and “Dutch Sandwich.”  These processes have the avoiding company sending their profits through an Irish company who then routes the money through a Dutch company. The Dutch company then sends the money to a SECOND Irish company based in a tax haven.

Google recently entered into an agreement with the UK which ended a six year investigation with their tax authority.  In that agreement, Google agreed to pay $185M in back taxes to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, and to revise its tax procedures indicating that it would “now pay tax based on revenue from U.K.-based advertisers, which reflects the size and scope of [their] U.K. business.”

This – the French – tax issue, is much more serious than the UK one, with Google owing up to an alleged €1.6B ($1.76B USD), according to a recent Reuters report.  How well France’s investigation fares is going to rely heavily on EU tax law which protects companies against paying tax in a country where they do not have a “permanent establishment.”

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Play your multimedia files where and when you want to with MPCStar

Play your multimedia files where and when you want to with this cool Windows app.

MPC-01

Multimedia is a big deal. Apple’s iTunes is a multibillion dollar business. Apple concurred the world because of the iPod and iTunes, so, having the right kind of multimedia player for your computing preferences and experience is important. This is one of the reasons why I like apps like MPCStar. It’s a freeware multimedia app for Windows.

MPCSTAR is an all-in-one multimedia app. It consists of a video player, an audio player and a number of different audio and video codecs, that coupled with its conversion utility will allow you to put your video where you want to play it, in the format that is best suited for it. You can also download content from the internet and play it with MPCStar. The app is user friendly and can play a number of different type of multimedia formats. MPCStar is also free and doesn’t contain any kind of spyware or adware.

MPCStar reminds me of the multimedia players that I used back in the in the Windows 95 and Windows 98 era, though the app works with Windows 2000 to Windows 7. The big things that you won’t see here are mobile device support of ANY kind and the complete and total lack of any kind of a content store. While MPCStar is good at playing your multimedia files, I wouldn’t expect too much out of it in terms of library management. The app really reminds me of WinAmp and other type players with basic album support for cover art and other file tags.

MPCStar also hasn’t been updated in well over three years, so don’t expect any kind of additional support for the app, either. It is the way it is. Its good at what it does; and the interface is really great, but what it does seems stuck in 1998…

Download MPCStar

 

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US Government Considering Tax Holiday

Of its $156B in cash, $138B (88.5%) is banked overseas…

TaxHoliday

Apple has a lot of cash. $156B USD to be exact, and $138B USD of it, or just about 88.50% is kept in banks outside the US. To the unfinancially initiated, like me, this seems curious. However, when you consider the 35% tax hit ($48.3B USD) that Apple would be charged to bring the money back to the United States, it’s no wonder they don’t think twice about it. Spending $$48.3B to bring back just $89.7B isn’t worth the hit. So, the money stays outside the US, and Apple deprives the US of the tax revenue.

Apple needs a place to park the money, and it – like nearly every other large corporate entity – banks a lot of it in Ireland. They have much kinder tax laws, making it more fiscally responsible for Apple to store it there. However, this makes it difficult for Apple to use it the way they want to; and it would be a lot easier for them to bring the money home.

As such, the US Government is currently considering a tax holiday that would allow Apple to make a one-time transfer of its cash hoard back into US banks. The last time this happened in 2004, the government lowered the tax rate to 5.25%. However, at that time, Apple was still three years away from releasing the iPhone and six years away from releasing the iPad. It wasn’t able to take advantage of the tax break.

Recently, Apple has been the target of a US government cash into its tax payments. This effort, and the resulting news coverage on Apple’s – as well as other organization’s – legal use of Ireland’s corporate tax haven, has caused the European Union to take a much longer, more scruitinous look at those laws. While Apple hasn’t broken any laws with its international tax policies – Apple paid over $7.0B in US Federal, corporate taxes in fiscal 2013 – the company wants permanent tax reform in the US.

The US Federal Highway Trust is out of money at the end of August 2014. With major road repairs to major infrastructure – like I-80, which crosses the Continental US from Coast to Coast, East to West – the US government must do something. For its part, Apple is willing to repatriate its large cash hoard, but won’t without a tax repatriation holiday and without permanent tax reform.

This particular issue is going to linger on for quite a while. While I’m not one for financial news, I will update this story if anything interesting develops over the next few months.

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