Monday, April 30, 2012

Rotten Apple, Rotten Core

Did you know Apple Computer now has a corporate office in Reno? I bet you didn't. In fact, hardly anyone must have known until yesterday.

The New York Times on Sunday outlined legal methods used by Cupertino, California-based Apple to avoid paying billions of dollars in federal and state taxes.

One approach highlighted in the report: Even though the company is based in California, Apple has set up a small office in Reno, Nevada, to collect and invest its profits. The corporate tax rate in Nevada is zero. In California, it’s 8.84 percent.

While many major corporations try to reduce their tax bills, technology companies like Apple, Google Inc., Microsoft Corp. and others have more options to do so.

And what have we seen as a result of Apple using us as a lame excuse not to pay California corporate income tax opening a Nevada office? Well, there's one fewer vacant office in Washoe County. And we have another cool Reno factoid.

Otherwise, we have nothing. And that's the problem here. Big corporations come here to Nevada to avoid paying taxes, and we have nothing to gain from it.

Yet as Apple hides its corporate profits in Reno, it actually hires people in Cupertino. And there's a reason for that. It's because Silicon Valley is full of top notch schools that are full of inquisitive students, tech companies there always have a rich pool of highly skilled workers to dip into and hire.

While UNR and Washoe County are trying to create the same kind of synergy in Reno, their possibilities are more limited simply because UNR hasn't been allowed to grow into another Stanford or UC Berkley. Instead, we've had to argue over how much to cut from both K-12 and higher education.

We clearly suffer went we don't invest in the basics, like public education. And Nevada has clearly suffered as the result of underfunding our schools. There are just certain benefits that good education provides and unfair tax codes can not... You know, benefits like jobs and stable communities.

Perhaps Silicon Valley tech giants like to hide their corporate profits here in Nevada, but we're not really reaping any rewards from their tax evasion. Rather, we continue to deny ourselves a chance to create our own version of Silicon Valley by denying our state the revenue we need to properly fund public education. While it's nice to know Apple has an office in Northern Nevada, it would be nicer if we had the kinds of well paying high tech jobs that continue to go elsewhere.

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