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Opinion: Apple’s real cash pile is 99% smaller than you think

As the CTJ report observes, Apple would have to pay about $59.2 billion in U.S. taxes if it tried to repatriate that money. So if it ever tried to return the cash to investors, through dividends or stock buybacks, it would lose a third of the money in taxes first.

OK, the company says it has no plans to bring the money back to the U.S. But so long as the stock is beyond the reach of U.S. tax authorities, it is also beyond the reach of investors. And that makes it much less valuable, and significant, for stockholders.

See: Apple taps bond market to fund shareholder-return program, avoiding tax on repatriation of overseas cash

And that’s not the only bad news.

Android 6.0 vs. iOS 9: More Alike Than Ever

(3:02)

Apple’s balance sheet also reveals that it owes $147.5 billion in debts, accounts payable and other liabilities, plus another $31.5 billion in “off-balance-sheet” liabilities such as leases and purchasing commitments.

When you add it all up, Apple’s spare cash is a tiny, tiny fraction of the $203 billion reported.

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