Apple shifts $9bn in Aust earnings

United States technology giant Apple has moved almost $9 billion in untaxed profits to from its Australian operations to an Irish tax haven in the past 10 years, media reports say.

Fairfax Media claims to have obtained a decade's worth of financial accounts for Apple Sales International, the Irish company at the centre of Apple's international tax arrangements.

The accounts reveal the mark-up Apple charges for intellectual property on its global products, The Australian Financial Review reports.

Last year, Apple reported pre-tax earnings in Australia of only $88.5 million after sending an estimated $2bn from its Australian sales to Ireland via Singapore, where Apple negotiated a secret tax deal in 2009, it said.

Apple Sales International has reported more than $US100bn ($112bn) of profits in the last five years, but its accounts indicate it's paid less than 50 cents in tax on every $1000 of income, the AFR said.

The report comes after last month's Group of 20 finance ministers meeting decided that by November the world's top economies would start to deliver effective and practical measures to counter tax avoidance.

G20 members expect to start automatically exchanging information on tax matters from 2015.

Independent senator Nick Xenophon said the report showed Apple was "rotten" and the government must act.

"When it comes to paying tax, it seems that this apple is rotten to the core," Senator Xenophon told reporters in Canberra on Thursday.

"This, if true, is a scandal."

Apple is being contacted for comment.

Apple has diverted about $9 billion in pre-tax profits from its local operations to Ireland over the past decade in a bid to reduce its Australian tax bill, The Australian Financial Review has reported.

The tech giant is believed to have agreed a tax deal that has seen $8.9 billion of Australian earnings transferred to Ireland via Singapore since 2002, with almost half of that in the past two years alone. The paper added that there was no accusation the arrangements were contrary to Australian tax laws.

University of Sydney senior lecturer of taxation law Antony Ting, who will publish a review of Apple’s global tax arrangements this month, said the introduction of figures reshaped the tax debate.

“Newspapers have had lots of stories about tax avoidance by Microsoft and Google and Apple, but there are hardly any numbers. Now, for the first time, there are numbers for the profits that escaped from Australian tax,” Mr Ting told the AFR.

The news comes as governments around the world step up their endeavours to recoup tax from tech heavyweights like Google and Apple, which could see measures put in place at the next G20 meeting in Brisbane later this year.