David Cameron failed to raise Google’s tax affairs when he met the company’s chairman Eric Schmidt in Downing Street yesterday, it has emerged.
Mr Schmidt was attending a meeting as a member of the Government Business Advisory Group.
But while Mr Cameron outlined his plans to use the UKs chairmanship of the G8 to tackle tax evasion and avoidance he did not specifically raise the issue of Google’s tax bill in the UK.
The company has been heavily criticised by MPs for technically outsourcing all its UK advertising sales to Ireland where it pays lower corporation tax – even though most of the sales are promoted and agreed in the UK.
The Independent understands that while Mr Cameron did not directly tackle Google on the tax bill in the meeting Mr Schmidt disclosed that he would support any efforts by the Prime Minister to clear up international tax law.
The Google boss was later allowed to leave the meeting in Downing Street by the back door to avoid answering questions from journalists.
Mr Schmidt has previously made clear his company would not support measures that would increase its overall global tax bill.
A spokesman for Mr Cameron said that he had raised the issue of tax in general with the Business Advisory Group and outlined what the Government intended to do to simplify international tax rules, increase transparency and close loop-holes in the current system.
“The Prime Minister talked the group though his G8 agenda,” he said. “That has transparency at the heart of it.
But he confirmed that he did not specifically be raised Google’s tax affairs.
“We don’t talk about individual companies’ tax affairs.
Asked earlier in the day why Mr Cameron had commented on the tax affairs of the comedian Jimmy Carr but was refusing to talk about the tax of Google the spokesman said: “The Business Advisory Group brings together a range of businesses.”
News of the Prime Minister's reluctance to single out Google for criticism came as a former Google executive-turned-whistleblower said he has 100,000 emails that expose an "immoral" tax avoidance scheme used by his former employer, that has "cheated" British taxpayers out of hundreds of millions of pounds.
Barney Jones, who worked for Google from 2002 until 2006, said the company has "pulled the wool over the eyes of HMRC and the British population."
Jones claimed that Google operated an elaborate system which diverts British profits through Ireland to the Bermuda tax haven.
Mr Schmidt is unlikely to get as easy a ride when he appears alongside the Labour leader Ed Miliband at a Google ‘Big Tent event’ on Wednesday.
Mr Miliband is expected to criticise the company’s tax policy and warn that a future Labour government would take a stronger unilateral line on aggressive tax avoidance than the Conservatives.
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