Apple Inc. Opens Melbourne Store Amidst $8.9 Billion Tax Controversy

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By Athena Yenko | March 6, 2014 6:29 PM EST

Apple Inc.'s controversial untaxed profit amounting to $8.9 billion in its Australian operation had just erupted.

However, the company is rumoured to be on its way of closing lease for its first store in Melbourne Central Business District on Collins Street, The Australian Financial Review reports.

 "They have wasted a lot of landlord's time with their very specific requirements. But the talk is that they are close to doing a deal on Collins Street," a source told the Financial Review.

Speculation grew that the Emirates House at 257 Collins Street is the possible Apple store location.

Emirates House, a 15-storey building along Collins Street through Flinders Lane, housed prestigious brands in the likes of Tiffany and Hugo Boss. It has an expansive retail arcade which covers the 1,900 square metre site between Elizabeth and Swanston Street.

However, another market source denied this.

"They've looked at Emirates House at 257 Collins Street , they've looked at the ANZ Bank building on the corner of Elizabeth and Collins Street, they've looked at the American Express Building at 233 Collins Street but have ruled them all out."

"They 're only interested in this pocket on Collins Street between Swanston and Elizabeth but are running out of options," the source added.

As of press time, Apple had declined to comment.

Meanwhile, debates whether Apple Inc.'s taxing arrangement is acceptable in the context of Australian laws had ignited among politicians.

"Our view is, and that is a view that is shared around the world, that business should pay their fair share of tax where they earn profits. It is important though to address that in a coordinated way through international fora like the G20.," Finance Minister Mathias Cormann told The Australian.

Labor's treasury spokesman, Chris Bowen, blamed the government in general. He said that the government should not have canceled proposal on offshore banking reforms which were supposedly beneficial to all Australian taxpayers.

 "It's not fair to other Australian businesses that do pay their fair share of tax if some companies are able to shift profits around to avoid tax," Mr Bowen said.

Trade Minister Andrew Robb meanwhile told ABC radio that all companies which derived profits Australian commerce must pay their fair share of tax.

"We are very strongly committed to seeking to capture that tax which has been avoided inappropriately," Mr Robb said.

Independent senator Nick Xenophon addressed Apple point-blank.

"When it comes to paying tax, it seems that this apple is rotten to the core," Mr Xenophon said.

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