back to article Five reasons why the Google tax deal is imploding

Today, the UK's tax deal with Google – or rather, corporate parent Alphabet Inc – looks worse than ever. Here's why. 1. Google avoids Osborne's 'Google Tax' Remember the Diverted Profits Tax? Announced in 2014, the DPT was designed to “deter and counteract” companies that “seek to avoid creating a UK permanent establishment” …

  1. CPU

    Anyone remember that David Cameron's former director of strategy Steve Hilton is married to Google's head of comms Rachel Whetstone,. Now we can see where this has led. I'll have a pint of Old Crony please.

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      She left ages ago, for Uber.

      http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/05/14/rachel_whetstone_quits_google_for_uber/

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      2. Wait. You paid… how much?

      How much of that was EARNED within UK physical borders??? A very tiny proportion I suspect.

      You would have to be a total retard to not think every country on the planet where Google have an internet presecence isn't thinking they own tax on the entire sum

  2. John G Imrie Silver badge
    Happy

    Damit

    Osborne has made me agree with Andrew Orlowski, I hate you Osborne!!!

    1. nijam Silver badge

      Re: Damit

      > Osborne has made me agree with Andrew Orlowski...

      No, I think tabloid misinformation has made you agree with Orlowski.

  3. hi_robb

    "Google - search doesn't to be taxing."

    1. Dick Emery

      You forgot the 'need'. But I caught your drift.

  4. Dick Emery

    It's not who you know...

    ...it's who you pay.

  5. Buzzword

    So are they breaking the law or not?

    I thought Google's dealings were, while naughty, not technically illegal. So why should either the UK or French governments get another penny out of them, without actually changing their laws?

    1. Ledswinger Silver badge

      Re: So are they breaking the law or not?

      I thought Google's dealings were, while naughty, not technically illegal.

      That depends on how you define and treat transfer pricing. Under most international agreements and UK domestic law, transfer pricing to transfer profits across borders is illegal. And that's the problem, HMRC are quite happy to harass SMEs and individual contractors, but they've been curiously uncurious when it comes to investigating Google's trading arrangements, or Starbucks' bean purchasing. Anybody foolish enough to believe Google et al when they maintain that their arrangements are legal and they make little or no profit in the UK needs to ask themselves why these companies report multi-billion dollar UK profits to their shareholders.

      If our government were not such a bunch of retards, and HMRC had some talent, they'd have nailed the big corporate tax dodgers, just like the French appear to be doing.

      1. Tim Worstal

        Re: So are they breaking the law or not?

        "transfer pricing to transfer profits across borders is illegal."

        Yep,

        "but they've been curiously uncurious when it comes to investigating Google's trading arrangements, or Starbucks' bean purchasing."

        Nope. Starbucks first. They paid a margin of 20% on the cost of beans to their own subsidiary in Switzerland. Note that beans are cheap, maybe 5 p on a cappuccino.

        So, what do the transfer pricing rules say? That a company must make sure that trade between two subsidiaries happens at market prices. That is, no special prices, no deal, to move money around in order to shift profits.

        So, do you know any coffee bean brokers who are willing to buy, grade, sort, store, coffee beans with out being paid a margin to do so? Quite: so Starbucks *must* under transfer pricing rules pay some sort of margin to its Swiss subsidiary. Maybe 20% is too much. But for them *not* to pay a margin would be a breach of the transfer pricing rules.

        Google is differently to do with the transfer pricing rules. The sales are made into the UK by Google Eire. That's Ireland's money, nothing to do with the UK. EU law that is, any EU company may sell anywhere in the EU and pay tax in whichever jurisdiction it calls home.

        If Google had no office at all in the UK there would be no argument over this at all.

        Google does have an office in the UK. The argument is not over the ad revenue again. It's over how much Google Eire pays Google UK for their engineering services and support. HMRC is saying that proper arms length transfer pricing would include a bit more margin for Google UK. Google has grudgingly agreed.

        It's absolutely not about the ad revenue at all.

        Now, maybe the law should be different and maybe it shouldn't be but that is the argument within the law as it is today.

        Finally, the idea that the big boys get special treatment. Err, no. The loophole that is being exploited here is one that is available to every small company. I've used it myself, multiple times. So, I sell some Ruby/Rails programming services into the US from the Czech Republic, as I just have done. US revenue from US customer. Should I now file a US tax return, pay US taxes? Nope, I'm a small company, I don't have a base in the US. So, to keep the world simple, to allow small companies to actually export, Aw, Heck, just pay the tax at home, to the CR.

        *That* is what Google is doing, exploiting the permanent establishment rules put into the law to *aid small companies*. And every small company that does export is doing exactly the same thing.

        1. codejunky Silver badge

          Re: So are they breaking the law or not?

          @ Tim Worstal

          Nice to spot you on this thread. Hope you dont mind me linking your Forbes articles, you made some interesting points I expect people are somewhat missing from the Reg (although it is nice to see Andrew Orlowski bring this topic to the reg).

        2. Graham Marsden
          Facepalm

          Re: So are they breaking the law or not?

          > *That* is what Google is doing, exploiting the permanent establishment rules put into the law to *aid small companies*.

          Because Google is such a small company that they *need* to use those rules since they can't afford to operate without them...

          1. Lysenko Silver badge

            Re: So are they breaking the law or not?

            >>Because Google is such a small company that they *need* to use those >>rules

            No, its because Google is a publicly traded company and it *needs* to maximise profits (and therefore minimise taxes) in order to discharge its legally binding fiduciary duty to its shareholders.

            You can trade off a higher tax payment against intangible goodwill but in the final analysis the deal has to pan out in the accounts as more value for Google shareholders.

            1. Uffish

              Re: "legally binding fiduciary duty"

              @ Lysenko, is "legally binding fiduciary duty to maximise profits" the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth ?

              If it is, then the law needs changing.

            2. Graham Marsden
              Thumb Down

              @Lysenko - Re: So are they breaking the law or not?

              > Google is a publicly traded company and it *needs* to maximise profits (and therefore minimise taxes)

              Corporations Don’t Have to Maximize Profits

              There Is No Effective Fiduciary Duty to Maximize Profits

              The nearest I can find to anything that backs up your claim is corporate directors are bound by "fiduciary duties and standards" which include "acting to promote the value of the corporation for the benefit of its stockholders." but that only says to "promote the value", not "maximise profits".

              If you wanted to take the "maximise profits" to its extreme, then companies would be lobbying to be allowed to use slave labour because that's cheapest...

              1. Lysenko Silver badge

                Re: @Lysenko - So are they breaking the law or not?

                @Graham

                I covered that in the second paragraph. You can trade profit for goodwill (or other investment) so long as the final analysis works out as enhanced shareholder value. What you can't do is act to consciously diminish shareholder value in the pursuit of some other objective. Not without explicit shareholder approval anyway.

                To voluntarily forego an available tax avoidance strategy the Board would have to be able to show that the goodwill accrued to the company is more valuable than the cash expended or that it is approved by the company's articles (e.g. investment squeamishness by the Church Commissioners).

                1. Graham Marsden

                  Re: @Lysenko - So are they breaking the law or not?

                  > What you can't do is act to consciously diminish shareholder value in the pursuit of some other objective. Not without explicit shareholder approval anyway.

                  [Citation Needed]

                  1. Lysenko Silver badge

                    Re: @Lysenko - So are they breaking the law or not?

                    Companies Act 2006 Pt.10 Ch.2 s.172 (1)

                    Clauses 'd' and 'e' have to be interpreted within the overall principles of the subsection.

                    1. Graham Marsden

                      Re: @Lysenko - So are they breaking the law or not?

                      Which says (I quote)

                      "A director of a company must act in the way he considers, in good faith, would be most likely to promote the success of the company for the benefit of its members as a whole"

                      There is *nothing* there that or the following sections which says *anything* about "maximising profits". In fact maximising profits could well contravene some of the requirements that follow, for instance "(c) the need to foster the company's business relationships with suppliers, customers and others" and "(e) the desirability of the company maintaining a reputation for high standards of business conduct"

                      A perfect example of this is how Tesco have recently been fined for deliberately delaying payments to suppliers in order to make their figures look better.

              2. anothercynic Silver badge

                Re: @Lysenko - So are they breaking the law or not?

                But companies already *do* use slave labour (or the modern equivalent thereof)... Think of any sports goods, clothing or electronics manufacturer with bases in the Far East... You can be guaranteed that Amnesty International and other human rights organisations will describe much of the labour used in said factories as virtually slave labour. So yes, they *are* maximising profit... they just contract out to be 'at arms length'.

    2. codejunky Silver badge

      Re: So are they breaking the law or not?

      Reading Tim Worstall on this topic is very interesting-

      http://www.forbes.com/sites/timworstall/2016/01/24/opposition-to-googles-185-million-tax-settlement-is-driven-by-three-economic-delusions/#7590e2b555a0

      http://www.forbes.com/sites/timworstall/2016/01/26/if-even-a-tax-qc-is-getting-googles-tax-deal-wrong-then-what-hope-for-the-rest-of-us/#6c38a3e16b8d

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: So are they breaking the law or not?

        He still hasn't explained how, if corporation taxed were dropped and a formula found where employees were taxed the equivalent, if the employees would be happy with 50% tax (or whatever high rate it is) on their wages.

        Because no international company ain't going to raise the wages of their UK employees just so it's easier for HMRC to collect it.

        Big muktinationals don't share everything with their employees, they sell high value goods and build up a warchest.

        1. Daggerchild Silver badge

          Re: So are they breaking the law or not?

          The government should just give up and ask Google how to fix the tax laws. They obviously know them better, and have the brains, data, time and tech.

          The funny thing? Google would probably, actually, genuinely, try and fix the tax laws, because at this stage of their development, they really do still like fixing things.

        2. Tim Worstal

          Re: So are they breaking the law or not?

          I haven't actually said the employees should be taxed the equivalent. Rather, I've said that the economic incidence of corporation tax is upon 1) The shareholders in the company being taxed and 2) All the workers in the economy applying the corporation tax.

          It is a basic and known economic finding that the corporation, as a corporation, does not bear the economic cost of the tax: only people can do that. So, instead of taxing the corporation why not just tax people instead? Comes to the same thing in the end but it's rather easier to just tax people: as this story is showing.

          1. Uffish

            Re: "why not just tax people"

            ... or why not just tax company profits at source? That way Governments can get the money that they want without getting involved with complicated paperwork with a lot of bemused citizens.

            If a government doesn't tax company profits at source the money will vanish and you will find , if you look really really hard, that a lot of it is no longer within the jurisdiction of the government, who will then get the money they want from the bemused citizens.

            The "tax the people" system works really well for some and not at all well for a lot of bemused citizens.

      2. Graham Marsden
        Thumb Down

        @codejunky - Re: So are they breaking the law or not?

        > Reading Tim Worstall on this topic is very interesting-

        Reading Tim Worstall in Forbes is just like reading him in El Reg. If his arguments are so clever and cogent, why does he have to continually resort to ad hominem sneers?

        Take his conclusion: "who would you rather get your public policy from? A politician, an accounting professor and a suburban accountant turned one fifth of a professor? Or an actual world expert on the economics of tax systems?" He's using blatant NLP techniques and dodgy debating tactics (eg Poisoning the Well ) to denigrate those he disagrees with and influence the reader into accepting his viewpoint, but if his points and conclusions were as valid as he believes, such behaviour simply wouldn't be necessary.

        He also claims that what Google et al are doing is "making us all richer", well, I'm sure it's making people like *him* richer, because they're the ones who can afford to own and trade shares in such big companies, but for the rest of us "little people", we're the ones who are seeing the money flow ever upwards and precious little of it tricking back downwards.

        Still, that's not his (or Google's) problem, is it?

        1. codejunky Silver badge

          Re: @codejunky - So are they breaking the law or not?

          @ Graham Marsden

          The bit that really jumped out of tims second article is the point that Google is using the rules which are in place specifically for this purpose to allow companies of all size (especially small) to trade internationally. Not something the big company can do that little ones cant but the actual purpose of the law designed to put all on a level playing field.

          As for owning shares in big companies, that would be most people with a pension. The idea of them making us all richer is of the services and products provided (his usual explanation) and I dont think his sneers are any worse than your views of trickle down or 'little people' (shudder). But the good news is we are all free to our own opinions and can share them for discussion.

        2. Tim Worstal

          Re: @codejunky - So are they breaking the law or not?

          I do the insult indirect to Murphy and Sikka. Up above Andrew has gone for the insult direct: "innumerati".

          And you want to shout at me about it?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: @codejunky - So are they breaking the law or not?

            Much as I dislike Richard Murphy and Lady Hodge, your attack on them in the Forbes article seems a little dishonest.

            What you quote them as saying here is that, given that the current tax system is based on taxing corporations on the profits they make in this country, the amount Google has paid is ridiculously low, based on a fair reckoning the actual profits they have made in the last decade from the business they operate in the UK.

            Then you call them idiots, because you say we shouldn't be taxing corporate profits in the first place.

            Even if you agree that the current system of taxing profits is fundamentally flawed, the fact remains that it is the system we currently have, and according to this system Google have paid too little tax, according to the spirit of the law of this system.

            It is possible to believe both that the current system of taxing corporate profits is flawed in a modern world of globalised trade, and also that Google have dodged paying the tax they do owe under that system, thanks to their size, wealth and political connections.

            1. Tim Worstal

              Re: @codejunky - So are they breaking the law or not?

              Not quite, no:

              "What you quote them as saying here is that, given that the current tax system is based on taxing corporations on the profits they make in this country,"

              I effectively call them idiots because that is *not* how the tax system currently works yet they are claiming it does.

          2. Graham Marsden

            Re: @codejunky - So are they breaking the law or not?

            > I do the insult indirect to Murphy and Sikka. Up above Andrew has gone for the insult direct: "innumerati".

            Which others have already addressed.

            > And you want to shout at me about it?

            No, I want you to argue in a way that does credit to your points, rather than sneering like a teenager because you think that makes your arguments better.

            You could also look up Ad Hominem Tu Quoque

    3. EPurpl3

      Re: So are they breaking the law or not?

      So they won't have to pay billions when the EU will declare their tax evasion illegal. They will say "we have already pay for all the past years"

    4. Lysenko Silver badge

      Re: So are they breaking the law or not?

      No-one actually knows. Until you take it to a tax tribunal, appeals and then potentially Judicial Review (all at vast cost/profit to m'learned friends) all you've got are opinions of varying levels of mendacity.

      Unless you're prepared to threaten retrospective legislation there is the real possibility of going after Google for a lot more money, losing and getting nailed for both your own legal costs and theirs.

      This sort of law is essentially Poker and HMRC vs. Google is a no limits game between the highest of high rollers. Such players generally avoid each other for the very good reason that it is too risky and rarely profitable. The "correct" way to play is to get into games with opponents (SMEs) who can't match your resources - then you can buy the game with a big bet and a bluff.

      Tax law has damn all to do with finding the truth, being fair or punishing cheats (that's what Criminal Law is for). It is about efficiently hoovering up cash for HMG. That means targeting weak opponents and staking as little Government cash as possible on each hand.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So are they breaking the law or not?

        This.

        People just don't get that those with moderate to deep pockets will run rings around tax laws, and that tax laws are made deliberately complex to permit this. I don't know about the UK, but here in the US the mere definition of "income" gets incredibly technical when you start dealing with tax attorneys.

        In representative governments, income taxes will always primarily fall on those at the middle of the income bell curve - those at the low end don't have money anyway (well, they do get nailed with regressive VATs / sales taxes and with monetary inflation), and those at the high end aren't going to have their feathers ruffled too hard because that's where campaign contributions and large piles of graft originate. This will not change any time soon, because politicians enjoy graft - why else take a ridiculously underpaying (compared to similar management positions) crap job that you have to spend piles of time and money reapplying for every few years?

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So are they breaking the law or not?

      It is impossible to close all the loopholes and trying to just makes tax more confusing. For this exact reason using technicalities to not honour the spirit of tax law used to be called tax evasion and punishable by harsh penalties.

      Gov are only letting them get away with it now because they and their chums are using the same loopholes to avoid paying their fair share too. If they had any backbone at all they could beat them at their own game and penalise every tiny mistake in their accounts to get the cash out of them. This constant scaremongering that they will ditch the UK and take their business elsewhere is nonsense because the UK public are their product.

      1. Lysenko Silver badge

        using technicalities to not honour the spirit of tax law used to be called tax evasion

        No it didn't, it was/is called tax avoidance and it has always been legitimate. The difference is primarily one of intent. If you honestly and reasonably (i.e. not culpably irresponsibly) believe you've found a technical ruse to avoid paying tax then that's legal. If you're wrong then the worst you can generally expect is a retrospective bill (with interest). Tax evasion is dishonestly misrepresenting your affairs to reduce or eliminate your tax bill and can land you in jail. Mistakes are not fraud and being wrong doesn't necessarily make you guilty.

        The Government is not allowed to win with the argument: "Yeah, yeah whatever! It doesn't matter what Parliament SAID, what they MEANT was...". Damn good thing too given the abuses it would lead to.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: using technicalities to not honour the spirit of tax law used to be called tax evasion

          They are selling the adspace to UK companies and showing the ads to the UK public, for profit. That is doing business in the UK, plain and simple. Whether or not it is legal may be up for discussion but it is clear that it IS a deception to avoid tax and by your own definition that is evasion.

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  7. chivo243 Silver badge
    Headmaster

    Do no Evil

    Do only Evil seems to fit the bill these days.

    Seems big business doesn't want to pay taxes. But they will donate billions for a tax break!

    pedant as he is as close to Moe Howard as the gallery has to offer... more icons please!

    1. RyokuMas Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Do no Evil

      Why do you think they came up with Alphabet as an umbrella company? Neatly gets round the whole Google - "do no evil" oxymoron

  8. Anonymous Blowhard

    Punter: "OK Google! Who was the greatest British Prime Minister?"

    Google: "Waivey (your tax bill) Davey!"

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    H0rsePr0n

    It's amazing what you can get a man to do when you have his search history.

    1. Oh Homer Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: H0rsePr0n

      Shouldn't that be "PigPr0n"?

    2. Dick Emery

      Re: H0rsePr0n

      So that's why whenever I search for 'blackmail' I get the wrong results!

  10. Wolfclaw Silver badge

    Cameron and his Government sucke dup and sold out to Google and the whole deal should be independently investigated and if any pressure from government or it's paid mandarins is shown, sack them and put the in front of a judge !

  11. wiggers

    Think about it...

    Whose money is actually going to HMRC with corporation tax? It's the consumers'. Corporation tax is just an indirect way of taxing the consumer. We're already paying income tax and NI on what we earn and VAT on what we spend, why do we have to pay a chunk of the before-tax amount as well?

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: Think about it...

      I think you miss the point entirely.

      Google has £100bn just sitting there. Earning interest. That money's already come and been taxed and been paid by the taxpayer. Google are just sitting on it. To tax it again doesn't hurt the consumer because it's ENTIRELY profit. Nothing else. Google have locked up BILLIONS of pounds of funds and are shipping them offshore, doing nothing with them. And they probably earn Google several percent interest which is a billion or two a year.

      As tax, they could pay for roads, hospitals, police etc. rather than sitting as a number in a corporation account.

      1. Michael Habel Silver badge

        Re: Think about it...

        Which Countr(y)ies still give you decent interest on savings? Perhaps I could move mine there too?

        1. Lee D Silver badge

          Re: Think about it...

          "Which Countr(y)ies still give you decent interest on savings? Perhaps I could move mine there too?"

          If you are investing hundreds of billions, you get much better rates.

      2. Dr Stephen Jones

        Re: Think about it...

        @Lee D

        "Google has £100bn just sitting there. Earning interest... As tax, they could pay for roads, hospitals, police etc. rather than sitting as a number in a corporation account."

        That's not how it's done. The money is Google's property not the Crown's, and we stopped using "I want that, so I'll have it" that as a philosophical basis for seizing property when the Magna Carta was signed.

        What we need is a fair and efficient tax system. Not backroom deals.

    2. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: Think about it...

      Well Google's profits comes from advertisers. But okay, that ultimately comes from consumers. Still, faced with lower rates of corporation tax do you think companies would (a) pass on the savings to customers, through lower prices, or (b) pass on the savings to their shareholders as higher dividends?

      A two pipe puzzle, that one.

    3. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

      Re: Think about it...

      No, sorry, you are wrong. Corporation tax is charged on profits that have already, as it were, been banked. It comes out of shareholder dividends or remuneration-committee voted boss pay. What makes you think for one microsecond that if a company did not have to pay corporation tax, it would cut prices next year?

      You will be telling me next that if we did not have to pay VAT, shop prices would drop by over 16%.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Think about it...

        Maybe not 16%, but SOME appreciable amount. Otherwise, one of the many other businesses that would also benefit from the tax cut would decide to use the new leeway to undercut the competition. Competition is what keeps companies honest since they can't keep their prices high without risking losing business.

        1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

          Re: Think about it...

          Not every sector of the economy is overflowing with competition. The grocery sector is pretty cut throat, at the moment, but there's almost a monopoly when it comes to selling adverts on internet search results..

        2. anothercynic Silver badge

          Re: Think about it...

          Ummmmm... no.

    4. Graham Cobb

      Re: Think about it...

      Eh? Tax isn't about taxing some piece of money, it is about taxing transactions. Otherwise, every time the government printed a pound it could only tax it once!

      Of course we paid tax when we earn't the money, then paid tax when we spent it, then the company needs to pay tax when they earn it and should also pay tax when they spend it (in fact, companies do not -- mostly they pay tax only on profits, apart from employers NI and some transaction costs, but certainly not on revenues). And the shareholders and employees get taxed when they receive it, and round we go again. That is how tax works.

  12. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

    Osborne's future

    Now he won't be PM because people realise that he really is just plain nasty, he needs to ensure a future role as a consultant to Google. I suspect Cameron is eyeing up something similar for Facebook as that's all about PR.

    1. Flatpackhamster

      Re: Osborne's future

      He's just as bloody useless and nasty as Gordon Brown, which is hardly surprising when you consider he's been using Gordon Brown's taxing and spending spreadsheets since 2010.

      1. Blank-Reg
        Mushroom

        Re: Osborne's future

        Austerity? What austerity. See, if Labour had some sort of a clue between them, shredding the current government would be a piece of piss. Just focus on the mess Osbourne is making with the country's finances and hammer home his continued hamfisted attempts at running the exchequer. Instead you end up with that dinosaur Corbyn and his entryist Militant Momentum cronies focusing on trivia, obsessions with the spare room subsidy, and generally trying to "Draw lines" whatever that means.

        In related news, HMRC hopes to rake in a few million in grabbing the odd person making a tiny income on fleabay. As they say, it's not what you know, it's who you know (and can bribe)...

  13. Arctic fox
    Headmaster

    "It isn’t just the innumerati - Richard Murphy, Prem Sikka, Russell Brand, the Corbynite Left"

    Actually Andrew there are plenty on the "Corbynite Left" who are perfectly capable of counting without having to take their shoes and socks off to get above twenty who have made very clear their dislike of this "deal" without out resorting to criticisms that you would be likely to characterise as "hard left". It has indeed attracted well merited and clearly expressed criticism across the whole political spectrum (I am very glad to say). All you are doing with that kind of comment is giving the impression that you are paying obeisance to the Daily Fail and their like, something which I am very certain is not an impression that you wish to give. What is the problem with admitting that your feelings about this deal are also shared on the Left without making snide remarks? God help me, I even agree with Tories sometimes - not very often, but it has been known to happen. :P

    1. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
      Flame

      Re: "It isn’t just the innumerati - Richard Murphy, Prem Sikka, Russell Brand, the Corbynite Left"

      Chatting to my boss today (and hes the sole owner of the business) he utterly hates this google tax deal, and hes the sort of right wing nutter who'd vote tory no matter what insane policies they had.

      Why does he hate it? and the small/medium businesses we supply hate it?

      BECAUSE THEY HAVE TO PAY FULL CORP TAX ON THEIR PROFITS BECAUSE THEY ARE UK BASED.

      They cant avoid it, if they try delaying paying it, inland revenue tends to turn up with menaces.

      And then the tories let google off by paying a pittance on what they really owe.

      Perhaps I should go self employed and base myself in the Cayman islands.. and see if the government will cut me a nice deal that means I only pay 10% tax on my income instead of the 35% or so that gets demanded....

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "It isn’t just the innumerati - Richard Murphy, Prem Sikka, Russell Brand, the Corbynite Left"

        Why not go whole hog and MOVE to the Cayman Islands physically and just deal with all your UK customers via Internet?

      2. Marketing Hack Silver badge
        Stop

        Re: "It isn’t just the innumerati - Richard Murphy, Prem Sikka, Russell Brand, the Corbynite Left"

        Agree with the above. The biggest problem is that tossing Google a softbball the British government is essentially subsidizing Google and penalizing other business in Britain.

      3. Arctic fox

        Re: "It isn’t just the innumerati - Richard Murphy, Prem Sikka, Russell Brand, the Corbynite Left"

        Indeed Boris, this exactly the kind of response I have been hearing from people who could not remotely be described as leftwing.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Seriously what did you expect, you voted them in

    Any political party that proudly calls itself thieves (Tory=irish bogtrotter=bandit) is of course going to live up to their name, so don't whinge you voted for them.

    1. Graham Marsden

      Re: Seriously what did you expect, you voted them in

      I suggest, AC, that you go back and look at the last lot of election results, because you'll see that the majority of us *DID NOT* vote for them, they got about 37% of the votes which was actually only 24% of the electorate.

      The fact is that the Tories only got around 600,000 more votes than they did previously, but because of our broken electoral system, that was somehow parlayed into a "majority".

      Until that gets fixed, we're going to keep getting Buggins' Turn governments with no actual change happening.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    French Employees could be happy...

    If gouv.fr manage to up the taxes Google pays in France then the pot of money towards any employees "participation" (a kind of French profit share) is going to soar!

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If I was king I'd probably scrap corporation tax altogether in favour of something harder to avoid. At the moment businesses fall in to two categories, those so small they can't avoid it and those big enough to. If you are small enough to not be able to avoid it you can usually arrange it so the amount you pay is relatively small by the use of judicious spending and claw back from years where you made a loss. As a tax it just doesn't really work very well.

  17. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

    Okay, so how do I get Osborne to do my taxes as well?

  18. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge
    Facepalm

    'Google argues it has “no fixed base” in the UK, despite employing thousands of staffers in London alone.'

    That could change pretty quickly. Be careful what you wish for.

  19. Dave 15 Silver badge

    Suits me....

    I will send HMRC my profits in terms of fractions of a google profit... then send the odd shaving off a penny piece for my tax.

    Good enough for the rich goose its good enough for this poor gander.

    Our law seems all based around precedent so this should be fine

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You are aware that Cameron is only an advertising executive in sheep's clothing?

    He must be in thrall to Google's success.

  21. Curly4

    A solution to not only the tax problem but also for the state budget also. What would happen to the companies that don't pay their taxes if that company suddenly become a state owned? I think after a couple of companies became state owned the rest of the companies would be a little more reasonable, and with the profits from those companies would help the budget while not destroying the ability of the company to do its business.

  22. Martin Summers Silver badge

    How many of us if we had enough money to be worried about such things as higher rates of tax, would try to do anything they could by any legal means there were available to keep as much of that money being taken away from them as possible? Until you've been in that position yourself don't criticise a company run by real people trying to do the same. If they tighten up the laws then they'll have to obey, right now they've done nothing wrong.

    1. Graham Marsden

      @Martin Summers

      You fail to comprehend the scale of what is going on.

      This isn't just a matter of a few thousand quid here or there, it is money running into the millions and billions. At what point do you say "hmm, actually I think having enough money to buy a small country, is sufficient..."?

      1. Martin Summers Silver badge

        Re: @Martin Summers

        I comprehend all right. I'm just saying how easy it is for people to criticise right now when they would probably do anything within their power to keep their own cash rather than hand half of it to the tax man. As someone pointed out further up, they aren't doing anything illegal, our laws allow them to do this and they've been doing it a lot longer than the tories have been in power too.

    2. Roo
      Windows

      "How many of us if we had enough money to be worried about such things as higher rates of tax, would try to do anything they could by any legal means there were available to keep as much of that money being taken away from them as possible?"

      Life isn't perfect in the UK by any means, but I do feel somewhat privileged to have grown up and now raise a family in the UK having seen some of the alternatives on my travels. I want more people to have the same chance at a prosperous peaceful life that I had, which requires a lot of money, which requires a lot of tax to be paid. So I don't resent paying a full portion of tax, after all it *should* go towards making the lives of our kids & the folks around us better - which *should* make us all better off.

      Tax avoidance is simply a way of gaining an unfair advantage over your team mates.

    3. David Beck

      You mean like RBS?

  23. Paul 76

    Someone seriously thinks ITVs advertising business and Googles are comparable ?

  24. TheDillinquent

    Are HMRC above the law?

    No. So why are they not being investigated by the Fraud Squad? After all they are colluding with Google/Apple/Amazon etc. to defraud the taxpayer.

  25. Captain Badmouth
    Devil

    HMRC tax site scripts/trackers

    If one proceeds to https://www.tax.service.gov.uk/account/sign-in?continue=/account, one finds that google-analytics has a script and a tracker on the pages. How nice to know they're so interested in my tax affairs, and how nice of hmrc to allow it.

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