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Google UK Boss Hits Back At Politicians Over UK Tax Bill

by Robert Lee,, London

30 November 2012

Google's vice-president in northern and central Europe Matt Brittin has defended the company against UK lawmakers' accusations of "immoral" accounting practices.

At a Public Accounts Committee (PAC) meeting two weeks ago, Google along with Starbucks and Amazon were criticized for the amount of tax they paid in the UK. Google paid GBP6m (USD9.6m) corporation tax on GBP2.5bn of UK revenues in 2011 by booking the majority of its sales in Ireland, where corporate tax is considerably lower than in the UK.

At the hearing Margaret Hodge, chairman of the PAC said to Brittin: "We are not accusing you of being illegal. We are accusing you of being immoral."

In an interview broadcast on Channel 4 television in the UK, Brittin defended Google along with the business community in general saying. "It's the wrong bias to think everyone is out to cheat."

"I find it frustrating when we're criticized because I'm not immoral and neither is Google. If Google were immoral, I would not be working here. I'm proud of the way we operate," he added.

He went on to say that members of parliament were criticizing companies for using a system that parliament itself had created. "Google plays by the rules set by politicians. The only people who really have choices are politicians who set the tax rates."

Brittin insisted that its status as a US company shaped its tax arrangements in the UK: "I would love it if Google had been invented in Cambridge. If Google had been created there and was a British business we'd be having a very different conversation now. We would be paying tax based on where our product was created – in that case, we'd be paying the majority of our tax here and operating in the US in a very different way."

TAGS: tax | business | Ireland | tax avoidance | commerce | accounting | corporation tax | internet | e-commerce | multinationals | tax planning

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