Apple CEO Tim Cook to propose tax overhaul

WASHINGTON — Apple Inc.’s chief executive, Tim Cook, plans to propose a ‘‘dramatic simplification’’ of corporate tax laws when he testifies before Congress next week.

Cook said he will present specific proposals at a Senate hearing Tuesday, aimed at encouraging companies to bring back foreign earnings to the United States and invest that money in creating jobs and in research and development

More than 1,000 US companies hold an estimated $1.7 trillion overseas, according to JPMorgan. Apple, which has built up one of the biggest cash piles in corporate history, holds massive amounts in foreign countries.


Some companies, especially multinationals, argue that US rates are too high and out of step with those of other developed economies.

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‘‘If you look at it today, to repatriate cash to the US you need to pay 35 percent of that cash. And that is a very high number,’’ Cook said. ‘‘We are not proposing that it be zero. I know many of our peers believe that. But I don’t view that. But I think it has to be reasonable.’’

Some tax analysts doubt whether lower rates would work, given the sophisticated techniques companies employ to lower tax bills. Multinationals are adept at shifting their income to tax havens around the world, they say.

Apple has $145 billion in cash, but analysts estimate it has only $45 billion available in the United States.

Cook, who declined to lay out his recommendations in detail, will make his first appearance at a congressional hearing since taking over as chief executive 2011.