When it comes to U.S. companies holding vast quantities of cash abroad, Apple is typically singled out… and with good reason. The Cupertino-based company has upwards of $180 billion in the bank, $69.7 billion of which is stashed away in overseas bank accounts.
But truth be told, Apple is hardly unique in this regard. In fact, a recent report from Bloomberg relays that America’s top 8 tech companies — including Google and Microsoft — together have over $420 billion in overseas bank accounts. Notably, Microsoft has more foreign held cash than Apple while GE, with $119 billion held in overseas accounts, has more than any other company by a long shot.
Microsoft Corp., Apple Inc., Google Inc. and five other tech firms now account for more than a fifth of the $2.10 trillion in profits that U.S. companies are holding overseas, according to a Bloomberg News review of the securities filings of 304 corporations. The total amount held outside the U.S. by the companies was up 8 percent from the previous year, though 58 companies reported smaller stockpiles.
Of course, the reason why companies like Apple are reluctant to bring back their foreign-held cash holdings to the U.S. is because it would be subject to high corporate tax rates. Additionally, in many cases, the cash abroad has already been taxed by foreign governments. Which is to say, tech companies are simply aiming to avoid double taxation.
To that end, Apple, along with a number of other companies have been lobbying the Government to enact a one time tax holiday that would allow them to repatriate foreign cash holdings at significantly lower tax rates.
As Tim Cook explained during a 2013 interview with The Washington Post:
If you look at it today, to repatriate cash to the US, you need to pay 35 percent of that cash. And that is a very high number. We are not proposing that it be zero. I know many of our peers believe that. But I don’t view that. But I think it has to be reasonable.
Unless a tax holiday is enacted, it stands to reason that Apple and its tech brethren will keep their billions abroad for the foreseeable future.