Google faces second Parliament grilling on UK tax avoidance

 

Senior executives from the internet giant Google are to be recalled before MPs to answer allegations that they misled Parliament over their tax affairs.

In November Matt Brittin, Google’s vice-president for Northern Europe, told the Public Accounts Committee that all his company’s sales team were based in Ireland and that the job of its UK staff was merely to market Google as an advertising space.

The distinction allowed the company to pay just £6m of tax on £2.6bn of profits derived in the UK in 2011.

But an investigation by the news agency Reuters has suggested that many of Google’s UK staff have jobs which “actually target, negotiate and close sales of Google’s advertising products to its customers”.

Reuters interviewed more than a dozen Google customers and former staff as well as looking at job advertisements and CVs on the business networking website LinkedIn.

It found dozens of London-based sales jobs on the company’s corporate website, whose responsibilities included “negotiating deals”, closing “strategic and revenue deals” and achieving “quarterly sales quotas”.

The LinkedIn profiles of around 150 London-based employees said they were involved in formulating sales strategy, managing sales teams, closing deals or other sales work.

Clients also believed Google was negotiating and closing deals in London. “All the people you tend to deal with are in London,” Simon Andrews, founder of advertising agency Addictive, which buys ads on Google, told Reuters. “You would never know about the Dublin thing apart from if you looked closely at the address on the invoices. All the people are based in London.”

Margaret Hodge, chairman of the Commons Public Accounts Committee, said the allegations were “very serious” and said she would be recalling Google and its accountants, Ernst & Young, to testify. “If what Reuters has uncovered has any substance, these are serious allegations and we need to test them,” she said.

She said she wanted to recall Mr Brittin, who testified last year, and Ernst & Young. A hearing could happen “within a month”.

“We need to ensure that actually what they told us first time around is not being economical with the truth,” she said. “It’s difficult to reconcile the statements made by the witness [Mr Brittin] and the evidence Reuters has uncovered.”

But Google described the Reuters report as “wilfully misleading”. The company said: “Our advertisements for UK staff sometimes refer to sales skills and many of the roles include sales in the title as we are seeking to attract people with those skills and that background. We accept that the wording of some adverts may have been confusing and we are working to make it clearer. We comply with all the tax rules in the UK and in every other country in which we operate.”

British overseas territories to share tax information

Britain’s overseas territories have agreed to share information with the UK’s tax authorities on identities of accounts held within their jurisdiction.

As part of an international effort to fight tax evasion, Anguilla, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, Montserrat and the Turks and Caicos Islands will all share information including names, addresses and account balances with tax authorities in five European countries. 

George Osborne said he hoped other countries would join the initiative. “This represents a significant step forward in tackling illicit finance and sets the global standard in the fight against tax evasion. I hope others follow these governments’ lead and enter into similar commitments to this new level of transparency, removing hiding places for those who seek to evade tax and hide their assets.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Leah Devine is only the ninth female to have made the Young Magician of the Year final since the contest began more than 50 years
peopleMeet the 16-year-old who has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year
News
Jonathan Anderson was born in Northern Ireland but now based between London, where he presents a line named JW Anderson
peopleBritish designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
News
Andy Davidhazy at the beginning (left) and end (right) of his hike
video
News
Taylor Swift is applying to trademark song lyrics from 1989
people
Voices
The popularity of TV shows such as The Liver Birds encouraged Liverpudlians to exaggerate their Scouse accent
voicesWe exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Retirement Coordinator - Financial Services

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: To provide a prompt, friendly and efficient se...

Recruitment Genius: Annuities / Pensions Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: You will be the first point of contact for all...

Ashdown Group: HR, Payroll & Benefits Officer - Altrincham - up to £24,000.

£18000 - £24000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: HR, Payroll & Benefits Of...

Ashdown Group: Learning and Development Programme Manager

£35000 - £38000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, int...

Day In a Page

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing