Google boss: I'm very proud of our tax avoidance scheme
Google's Chairman Eric Schmidt said £2.5 billion tax avoidance 'is called capitalism'
Nikhil Kumar is The Independent's New York correspondent. He was formerly assistant editor on the foreign desk and has also done a variety of jobs on the city desk, where he wrote about markets, commodities and other business and economics topics.
Thursday 13 December 2012
The head of the internet giant Google has defiantly defended his company’s tax avoidance strategy claiming he was “proud” of the steps it had taken to cut its tax bill which were just “capitalism”.
In an interview in New York Eric Schmidt, Google’s Chairman, confirmed the company had no intention of paying more to the UK exchequer. Documents filed last month show that Google generated around £2.5 billion in UK sales last year but paid just £6m in corporation tax.
The Californian based search giant has also been revealed to have sheltered nearly $10bn of its revenues in Bermuda allowing it to avoid some $2bn in worldwide income taxes in 2011.
But Mr Schmidt said such schemes were legitimate and the company paid taxes “in the legally prescribed ways”.
“I am very proud of the structure that we set up. We did it based on the incentives that the governments offered us to operate,” he said.
The Silicon Valley boss went on to suggest that Google would not turn down the opportunity to draw on the big savings allowed under the law in the countries it operates in: “It’s called capitalism. We are proudly capitalistic. I’m not confused about this.”
He also ruled out following Starbucks in voluntarily handing more money over to the UK Government.
“There are lots of benefits to [being in Britain],” he said.
“It's very good for us, but to go back to shareholders and say, 'We looked at 200 countries but felt sorry for those British people so we want to [pay them more]', there is probably some law against doing that.”
Mr Schmidt’s defiant stance is unlikely to find favour on either side of the Atlantic with both the American and European Governments searching to find ways of forcing “stateless” internet companies such as Google to pay more tax.
The issue will be raised by George Osborne when Britain takes over the chairmanship of the G8 and will also be investigated by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
Last week the Chancellor said he was committed to “leading the international effort” to prevent international companies transferring profits away from major economies, including Britain, to tax havens.
“We will put more resources into ensuring multi-national companies pay their proper share of taxes,” he said. “With Germany and now France, we have asked the OECD to take this work forward and we will make it an important priority of our G8 Presidency next year.”
Tonight Margaret Hodge, chairman of the powerful House of Commons Public Accounts Committee, which recently cross examined Google UK on its tax affairs said Mr Schmidt should be ashamed rather than proud of his company’s tax bill
“For Eric Schmidt to say that he is ‘proud’ of his company’s approach to paying tax is arrogant, out of touch and an insult to his customers here in the UK,” she said.
“Ordinary people who pay their taxes unquestioningly are sick and tired of seeing hugely profitable global companies like Google use every trick in the book to get out of contributing their fair share.
Google should recognise its obligations to countries like the UK from which it derives such huge benefits, and pay proper corporation tax on the profits it makes from economic activity here. It should be ashamed, not proud, to do anything less. ”
- 1 I'm A Celebrity 2014: Jungle security stepped up after murder and 'suspicious death' near to camp
- 2 To help fuel their propaganda machine against the poor, our government has now decided to redefine the word 'welfare'
- 3 Jeremy Hunt: 'I took my children to A&E because I didn't want to wait for GP appointment'
- 4 Girl, 7, gets Tesco to remove 'stupid' sign suggesting superheroes are 'for boys'
- 5 This letter from a reader explains why women can’t play football
Sarah Vine criticises lesbian mother Jack Monroe: 'If she was unsure about her sexuality, she should have taken greater precautions'
Black Friday 2014: Opening times for Asda, John Lewis, PC World, GAME and Argos
Three-year-old boy accidentally shoots dead his mother in Tulsa, Oklahoma, as she changes her younger daughter's nappy
Michael Brown shooting: Driver smashes into crowd as protests erupt across the US during a second night of unrest
Jeremy Hunt: 'I took my children to A&E because I didn't want to wait for GP appointment'
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
Ukip says babies born to immigrants in the UK should be classed as migrants – which would include Nigel Farage’s own children
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
Exclusive: UK approved £7m Israeli arms sales in six months before Gaza conflict
£35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Required skills include SQL querying, SSRS, u...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: C#.Net Developer - C#, ASP.Net, HTML...
Negotiable: Argyll Scott International: Senior Business Analyst - Insurance ...
£25000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This independent, growing Sales...