A top Google executive has denied that his company misled British authorities over the minimising of its tax bill there.
Matt Brittin told the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC)that the US internet giant was paying its fair share of British corporation tax.
He explained to sceptical lawmakers that its UK employees were engaged in sales, but were not actually selling as the deals were completed by staff outside Britain.
Corporate tax avoidance is currently a major issue in the UK.
It was a return visit to the Committee for Brittin. He had testified last November that UK staff were only involved in promotional activity. “Nobody (in the UK) is selling,” he said then, adding that Google Ireland was the contracting party for UK sales.
That arrangement allows Google to shelter most of its income on UK sales from taxation, since Google Ireland sends most of its turnover to an affiliate in Bermuda.
During his latest appearance, Brittin did concede that Google UK engaged in more selling activities than he had previously said but insisted, “the UK team are selling, but they are not closing.”
Members of parliament said that scheme was deliberately misleading. “It really doesn’t wash,” said Stephen Barclay, a PAC member with the ruling Conservative Party.
Committee chairwoman Margaret Hodge said Google was not living up to its original motto of “don’t be evil”.
“You do do evil,” by shielding UK income from tax, she said.