Some angry British politicians are searching for answers about Google’s tax bill.
The company has reached a deal with the UK authorities because it underpaid taxes for 10 years, but the agreement has been strongly criticised as nowhere near enough.
Google will pay an additional 130 million pounds (171 million euros) on tens of billion of euros profit it made during that period. That brings its total tax bill to around 200 million pounds (263 million euros).
It slashed its tax bill by moving profits through Ireland to Bermuda where it pays no tax on them – which is perfectly legal.
Now the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee wants to question Google bosses over the deal.
Meg Hillier, the Labour party chairwoman of the Public Accounts Committee, tweeted at the weekend she would call Google and the UK tax authority to explain the “cosy deal”.
Bet individual taxpayers wouldn't get off as lightly as Google on back tax. Cosy deal. Will call HMRC and Google to @CommonsPAC to explain.— MegHillierMP (@Meg_HillierMP) 23 Gennaio 2016
The UK tax authorities – Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs – said that Google “will pay the full tax due in law on profits that belong in the UK”. That is an admission that by moving profits overseas to Bermuda, where the tax rate is zero, Google had not acted illegally.
Corporate tax avoidance has prompted anger in recent years among citizens who question whether the burden of paying to combat the financial crisis was evenly shared.
A study conducted by accountants PricewaterhouseCooper for the 100 Group, a lobby body representing around 100 of the biggest UK companies, showed their combined corporation tax bill was half 2010 levels in 2015, despite rising profits.