The race to catch Apple cheating on taxes is on, and it looks like the French association SACEM has crossed the finish line, exposing 5 million euros (approx. $6.5 million USD) in French royalties on iPads sold in 2011 that the company failed to pay.
So what happened? France has a tax called the “copie privée,” which is applied to the sale of any digital devices that can be used to read, transfer or make use of copyrighted content. The tax is normally collected and then given to SACEM, which distributes it among authors, producers, actors and other content creators. Apple remembered to charge its consumers the tax, but it never passed the money on to SACEM.
This is a pretty huge mistake for Apple to make, especially considering the attention the company has been getting over its tax practices. It seems very unlikely that Apple made the decision intentionally, and it was likely an easy error to overlook considering the large number of taxes in France. Either way, it’s pretty clear that now is not a good time for Apple or any other tech giant to slip up on its taxes.