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Apple pledges to spend $350 billion, bring 20,000 jobs to US within next five years

Chief executive Tim Cook introduces Apple’s new iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, in Cupertino, Calif., Sept. 12, 2017. Apple posted strong quarterly revenue and profit increases on Nov. 2 and, buoyed by what it reported as brisk interest in new iPhone models, forecast that growth would continue. (Jim Wilson/Copyright 2018 The New York Times)

Apple, the world's most valuable company, said Wednesday it will spend $350 billion in development and create 20,000 jobs in the United States in the next five years, outlining for the first time how it will invest in the U.S. economy following the new tax law passed late last year.

Apple said that as required by the new tax law, it will pay $38 billion in taxes from its massive cash holdings overseas. The payment is so far the largest announced from the tax plan changes, experts said.

"On the one hand, this is a record payment. On the other hand, it shows how successful they've been at gaming the system" around the world, said Edward Kleinbard, a law professor at the University of Southern California.

Given the new corporate tax rate of 15.5 percent, that indicates Apple is returning around $245 billion in cash to the United States. In its last earnings report, the company reported it held $252 billion in cash overseas.

Apple has for years faced scrutiny and criticism around the world for its tax policies. The company recently agreed to pay more than $100 million in taxes to British authorities after an audit.

It has also lobbied for the U.S. to ease tax rates on foreign profits brought back to the U.S., saying that such changes would allow the company to invest more freely in the U.S. economy.

"We believe deeply in the power of American ingenuity, and we are focusing our investments in areas where we can have a direct impact on job creation and job preparedness," said Apple chief executive Tim Cook in a statement. "We have a deep sense of responsibility to give back to our country and the people who help make our success possible."

That echoes statements Cook made last year, when he told The New York Times that companies have a "moral responsibility" to grow the economy in the United States.

In addition to the tax payment, Apple said over the next few years it will significantly add to the 84,000 employees it currently has in the U.S. The new jobs will come from hiring at Apple's current locations and from a new campus focused on technical support for customers. Apple will announce its location later this year. It also said it plans to build several new data centers in the U.S. - including previously announced projects in North Carolina and Iowa - and said it broke ground on a new facility Wednesday in Reno, Nevada. Overall, Apple will spend $10 billion on building data centers, as part of a $30 billion investment in capital expenditures.

Apple has faced repeated criticism from U.S. lawmakers for not making more of its products, such as the iPhone, the iPad and Mac computers, in the United States. Apple does make some hardware in the U.S., but most of its products are produced and assembled in China. The company has in recent years focused on building more facilities in the U.S.

It is also increasing the size of a previously announced manufacturing fund to support its network of suppliers for parts that go into its devices. That fund will increase from $1 billion to $5 billion. This fund has already bankrolled initiatives in Kentucky and Texas; Apple did not offer further details on where it may invest in U.S. manufacturing in the future.

Further investment will also go into education initiatives.

The company did not say how much of its investments were already planned.

The White House applauded Apple's announcement. "Just as the President promised, making our businesses more competitive internationally is translating directly into benefits for the American worker, through increased wages, better benefits, and new jobs," said Lindsay Walters, a White House deputy press secretary.

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