Life in the Channel Island of Jersey, Apple’s Alleged Tax Haven
According to the Paradise Papers—a cache of leaked records that outline tax evasion tactics used by the wealthy—Apple, facing scrutiny over its use of Ireland as an overseas haven, allegedly moved its tax residency to the Channel Island of Jersey in late 2014. A British Crown dependency, Jersey is located 12 miles off the coast of France, but it is part of neither the United Kingdom nor the European Union. Jersey has its own laws, one of which is charging zero percent in corporate taxes.
With a population of just under 100,000, the 72-square-mile island is smaller than Washington D.C., with mild winters and cool summers, making its bucolic terrain ideal for farming. Jersey is the largest of all the Channel Islands, and in World War II it became occupied by German troops despite relying on the British for its defense. Jersey’s capital is the city of Saint Helier, though the island is around 66% farmland.
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The CIA World Factbook says 50% of Jersey’s economy comes from financial services, and 2015’s gross domestic product was amounted to $5.08 billion. According to the BBC, Apple has more than $252 billion in international profits parked offshore.
Another 25% of Jersey’s GDP is rooted in agriculture, with many of its imports, including cauliflower and potatoes, sold to the U.K. The Jersey breed of dairy cattle is a big moneymaker for the island.
The last quarter of Jersey’s economy is represented by tourism. Billing itself as a rugged yet relaxing escape from Europe’s cities, the island boasts beaches, fine dining, luxury spas, and plenty of cycling lanes.
It’s unclear what the revelations within the Paradise Papers mean for Apple and Jersey—especially now that the island will have to weather two storms: Apple’s alleged evasion and the turmoil whipped up from Brexit. Before the Paradise Papers were leaked, it appeared Jersey had done well hedging its bets against its dependency on the U.K. by moving into financial services. But now, the forecast for Jersey is less clear.