Woz says Apple tax scandal could “hurt a bit”

Steve Wosniak has told a Derry press conference that Apple’s tax scandal can damage the brand of the tech giant he co-founded.

Speaking today at the European Business Network (EBN) Annual Congress at the Millennium Forum, the technology guru said the emerging tax scandal could “hurt a bit” but added that the taxation system for big companies was the real problem.

Pictured at the 22nd EBN Annual Congress Derry were headline speaker Steve Wozniak, who co-founded tech giant Apple, with Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster, Mel Higgins, right, interim chief executive of Ilex, and Stephen McGowan, left, of Department of Culture Arts and Leisure (DCAL).Credit Lorcan Doherty

Pictured at the 22nd EBN Annual Congress Derry were headline speaker Steve Wozniak, who co-founded tech giant Apple, with Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster, Mel Higgins, right, interim chief executive of Ilex, and Stephen McGowan, left, of Department of Culture Arts and Leisure (DCAL).Credit Lorcan Doherty

He said corporate reputation was “very important to Apple”.

He added: “But people say ‘hey, every big company does this’. Apple is not to blame, the companies are not to blame it is the system that is to blame.” However, he admitted that the big companies were the ones who helped create the system in the first place.

“In the early days of Apple I learned quickly that businesses are not taxed the same as people are. Business should be taxed the same as people are, taxed on income rather than on profit,” he added.

Earlier Mr Wosniak addressed around 500 delegates in the Millennium Forum as part of the EBN conference hosted in Derry by the The Northern Ireland Business and Innovation Centre (NORIBC).

It has emerged that of its multi- billion Irish company profits, Apple paid an average of less than 1% tax to Dublin. Leading US politicians and tax professors have accused the company of deliberately shuffling around its global profits in order to lower its tax bill.

Foremost among Apple’s accusers are two US senators: a formidable bipartisan duo of Carl Levin, a 78 year-old Democratic senator from Michigan, and John McCain, 76, the 2008 Republican presidential candidate.

Meanwhile, speaking at the Derry EBN conference, Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster welcomed the delegates from all over Europe. She said it was important for businesses to broaden their horizons by looking to new markets.

“By exchanging, sharing and exploiting knowledge, we can drive our economy to an even higher level.

“Our Economic Strategy recognises the importance of targeting resources and research on areas where we have the best opportunities to be leaders on the European or even world stage.

“Collaboration is vital if we are to strive towards international competitiveness and build a knowledge based economy. Indeed, our focus on collaboration meant Northern Ireland was successfully selected by the EU as a demonstrator region for developing service innovation. I am confident that our engagement in such international initiatives will not only assist us to build fruitful partnerships but also to positively profile the range of innovative activities that Northern Ireland businesses are engaged in.”