Apple Becomes Most Valuable Public Company Ever A Year After Dodging $2.4 Billion In Taxes

Before the stock market opened Monday, Apple was already the world’s most profitable tech company and it was already bigger than the entire American retail market on its own. By the time the market closed yesterday, the company had another feather to add to its cap: it is now the most valuable publicly-traded company ever, as its closing $665.15 share price gave it a market value of $623.52 billion, pushing it past Microsoft’s 1999 record number (though, adjusted for inflation, Microsoft’s value at the time was higher).

While Apple’s value — and its profits — have soared, the amount the company pays in taxes hasn’t. By utilizing low-tax states in the U.S. and offshore tax havens abroad, Apple has dodged billions of dollars in taxes over the last decade, including an estimated $2.4 billion in 2011 alone. The company paid a 9.8 percent tax rate in the U.S. in 2011 but just a 3.2 percent global rate, and the percentage it pays worldwide hasn’t exited single digits for more than a decade. As this chart from the New York Times shows, the amount Apple pays in taxes has remained relatively constant even as its profits have soared:

Those low tax rates aren’t enough for Apple, which has lobbied for tax breaks both at the state and federal level. California has passed four tax breaks aimed at tech companies since the 1990s; Apple lobbied for the last of those breaks, which could cost the state as much as $1.5 billion a year. It was also part of a coalition that lobbied Congress for a massive one-time corporate tax holiday that would allow it to bring its overseas profits home at a discounted tax rate, and it has admitted sending profits overseas to avoid American taxes.

Apple-style tax dodging comes at a cost to taxpayers and other American businesses. The California Public Interest Research Group estimates that corporate tax dodging cost the average taxpayer $434 in 2010. Citizens for Tax Justice, meanwhile, found that making up revenue lost to such tax dodging would cost each American small business $2,116 a year.