Apple paid less than 2 per cent on its profits to the taxman outside the US, despite its overseas profits surging by more than 50 per cent, documents reveal.

An Apple shop opening in Beijing (Getty)

The California-based firm is the latest company to come under scrutiny for making a poor contribution to overseas coffers after Starbucks, Facebook and Google met similar criticism.

The technology giant paid £445m in corporation tax outside the US in the year to 29 September, papers filed with US regulators have revealed.

Irish subsidiary

Apple channels much of its business in Britain and Europe through a subsidiary based on an industrial estate in County Cork, Ireland, The Sunday Times has reported.

Ireland's corporation tax is about half the level of the UK where headline corporation tax rate in the UK of 24 per cent. In the US it is 35 per cent.

The technology giant's overseas tax rate fell to 1.9 per cent, compared to 2.5 per cent the previous year. The slide in its overseas tax rate came as the company sold 125 million iPhones, 58 million iPads and 13.5 million MacBook laptops worldwide, including the US.

Pre-tax profits were up by 63 per cent in the past year to just under £35bn, with £23bn from overseas sales. It paid £8.3bn in federal and state taxes in the US.

Apple was not immediately available for comment.

Offshore havens

Coffee giant Starbucks reportedly paid just £8.6m in corporation tax in 14 years of trading in Britain - and nothing in the past three years.

And America's top five technology companies, including Facebook, Amazon and eBay, legally avoided around £850 million in corporation tax last year, a Sunday Times investigation has found.

Companies are able to sidestep the taxman by constructing complex global structures that allow them to move money through offshore havens.