Woz: Apple's tax practices are stinky

At a conference in Northern Ireland, the Apple co-founder says that public criticism of Apple's Irish financial arrangements is "extremely warranted."

Still thinking simple and different. James Martin/CNET

Steve Wozniak thinks like Mitt Romney.

Well, a little. It's not that he quite believes corporations are people too. It's more that he thinks corporations should be taxed like people too.

Corporations like Apple, for example.

At a conference in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, Woz told Sky News on Thursday: "Criticism of Apple's tax policies is extremely warranted, in my mind, but my explanation is rather long and difficult."

It's a pity he wasn't asked to testify before the Senate last week. Its members seemed to have all day to listen to Tim Cook .

Still, as the Telegraph reports, Woz insisted that, quite simply, corporations should be taxed on what they earn, just like real human beings.

Woz spoke of lawyers he knows who work in California, but pretend to live in Nevada to minimize their tax exposure (and, perhaps, to maximize their time with Mila, the Vegas lap dancer).

He explained that he feared corporations -- Apple included, by implication -- simply have no scruples: "For a corporation, there's no such thing as personal ethics. It's like you will do anything, any scheme you can, to maximize your profits."

Woz passionately believes that Apple's original ethos and intention was to help the little people succeed against the bigger people.

Yet time has woven a difficult tapestry. Apple has become one of the bigger people.

If corporations were taxed like ordinary people, he said, that would mean they would "pay taxes on all of their revenues or people only pay it on a tiny amount called profit and until we rectify that, the whole problem is just with us forever."

You cannot help but admire his simple logic. If ordinary working people deducted their essential life expenses (cars, Louboutins, medical marijuana) before paying tax, they would have more disposable income.

"Why do businessmen get to write off lunches and cars? If normal people did they would have more savings," he said.

But then life would be fair and it's not supposed to be. If it was, what would we have to complain about?

Woz often seems to speak with a willful idealism, yet what makes his version often different is that his idealism makes a wholesome amount of sense.

Perhaps President Obama might co-opt Apple's co-founder into his policy-making fold. I have a feeling Woz would be rather popular. Among ordinary people, that is.

Wouldn't you like to see Woz grill a bank chairman? I would.

 

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