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Why Rand Paul thinks Senate is 'bullying' Apple Inc. (+video)

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Sen. Rand Paul (R) of Kentucky thinks the US Senate is “bullying” Apple Inc. That’s what he said Tuesday during a hearing on Apple’s tax-avoidance strategies, in any case.

The Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations convened the hearing to investigate charges that the iconic producer of the iPhone and iPad has kept its taxes low in recent years by in essence parking overseas profits in the middle of the ocean.

Senator Paul said that as far as he could tell Apple had done nothing illegal. The firm had simply taken advantage of the complexities of the US and foreign tax codes, he said.

He complained that instead of celebrating the firm’s success, senators were “dragging in” Apple executives and berating them.

“Apple has done more to enrich people’s lives than politicians will ever do,” said the Kentucky lawmaker, a favorite of the tea party. “To the Apple executives here I apologize for this theater of the absurd.”

Paul’s rant sent a jolt of tension through a session that otherwise was focused on what many lawmakers perceived as Apple’s use of tax gimmicks.

The firm avoided taxes on money earned overseas by assigning it to three subsidiaries based in Ireland, according to information developed by subcommittee staff.

Under US law, profits held by those subsidiaries would be taxed in Ireland, where the subsidiaries are incorporated. Under Irish law, the profits would be taxed in the US, the country from which the subsidiaries are controlled and where they hold board meetings.

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