The Breakdown | Explaining Southern California's economy
Business & Economy

Are U.S. households really paying an 'Apple tax?'

The Apple iPhone 5. Does getting one mean that you're paying the equivalent of a tax to Cupertino?
The Apple iPhone 5. Does getting one mean that you're paying the equivalent of a tax to Cupertino?
AFP/AFP/Getty Images

At Reuters, Chris Taylor argues that they most definitely are:

The analogy of an Apple tax might sound facetious, but think about it. Median U.S. household income was $50,054 in 2011, according to the Census Bureau. A sizable chunk of that is getting diverted to Apple headquarters in Cupertino.

Remember, this is not something that consumers are being forced to pay. They are dipping willingly into their own pockets, because they're essentially slaves to the devices.

Taylor quotes an analyst who expects Apple-related spending to rise to over $800 a year per American household by 2015. How does that compare with other taxes?

Well, if the median household has two parents filing joint tax returns, and two kids, it's paying about half the 2015 "Apple Tax" each month in federal income and Social Security tax: close to $450. So households may be spending a lot on the Apple ecosystem of products — from iPhones to iPads to iTunes — but a lot more of their money continues to go to the government. 

Still, the increase in spending on Apple products is impressive. It more than tripled between 2007 and 2011, to $444 per household per year from $150. Obviously, if it goes to $800 plus, the rate of growth will have slowed, but you're still talking about households doubling their Apple spending in two years.

The only way to avoid paying this Apple tax is to avoid buying Apple products. For most households that need consumer electronics (or simply ardently want them), that would mean buying someone else's tablets and smartphones. One of the brilliant things that Apple has done in its rise to become a corporate powerhouse is create products that play nicely together. So there's an incentive to go all Apple, all the time. 

And that means that the Apple Tax might be the only tax that you fundamentally don't want to dodge. In the history of taxation, that could be a first.

Follow Matthew DeBord and the DeBord Report on Twitter. And ask Matt questions at Quora.