Protesters target Apple as a tax cheat


By Oona Robertson

Tomorrow (Sat/4), the economic justice organization US Uncut is protesting Apple Computers for trying to avoid paying $4 billion in federal taxes and for joining a corporate tax cheat lobbying group. Ironically, it is Apple's good corporate reputation that has made it a target, as protesters hope the attention might shame the company into doing the right thing.

Apple has kept billions of dollars in profits in offshore tax havens and low-tax countries such as Ireland and the Netherlands. Through an organization called WIN America that Apple belongs to along with Google, Microsoft, and other large corporations, it is lobbying Congress for a tax holiday to bring $1.2 trillion in profits back to the U.S. to supposedly invest in the economy. Apple’s share of this tax break, $4 billion, would equal salaries for 90,000 teachers.

US Uncut is aware that the technology giant is an unlikely target for protest, due to its popularity and positive public image. Protesters are hoping that because Apple seems to care about its image in the eyes of consumers, it is more likely to respond to a protest.

“Most of the other companies aren’t really gonna give a damn if we go after them. They’re not concerned for their reputation. [With Apple] there’s a little more leverage,” US Uncut spokesperson Joanne Gifford told us. Apple did not return requests for comment.

Protesters hope to creatively drive their message home using flash mobs to get people's attention. They are demanding Apple, “Leave the Tax Cheat Lobbying Group and Stop Lobbing Congress for More Tax Loopholes,” according to its website.

This Saturday's action coincides with similar protests in 15 other U.S. cities, all organized by US Uncut as part of what it calls a national day of action. In San Francisco, protesters are meeting at Union Square to “discuss action ideas,” before heading over to the Apple flagship store on Market Street. Chanting, handing out leaflets and holding signs will be recommended, boasting slogans such as “Love the iPhone, hate the tax cheat,” and, “It only takes one bad apple.”

US Uncut’s website lists creative action ideas for protesters to employ, such as impersonating Apple employees by wearing turquoise blue shirts and nametags, or approaching the Genius Bar to ask questions such as, “Why can’t I sync my iPhone with my values?”

Teachers are being told to bring their pink slips and ask the “geniuses” how to save their jobs. The protesters' last major flash mob, a music and dance number targeting Bank of America, made headlines and the hope is to replicate that level of publicity this Saturday.