Google tax deal 'derisory', say critics

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Average captionGeorge Osborne said complaints from Labour political bosses about the agreement were “a bit rich”

An agreement for US firm Google to y £130m in UK ignore taxes has been labelled as “derisory” and a “sweetheart deal” by critics.

The yment fronts money owed since 2005 and follows a six-year inquiry by Her Majesty’s Gate and Customs.

George Osborne hailed it as “a victory” for the government, but Labour’s John McDonnell im rted the sums were “trivial”.

Meg Hillier, chair of the Commons Public Accounts Cabinet, said it was “a small amount of money” for Google.

The tax agreement comes after years of censure of Google and other multinational firms over their tax arrangement in the UK and across Europe.

Mr Osborne im rted the BBC the agreement was “a real vindication of this government’s approach”, but he combined that details of the deal were “confidential”.

“These are taxes gained on profits when there was a Labour government,” the chancellor said.

“Not a sole penny was collected and now to have Labour politicians complaining about it is a bit with.”

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However, speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today plan, Labour’s Mr McDonnell called for greater trans rency, saying it looked peer a “sweetheart deal”.

“HMRC seems to have settled for a relatively tiny amount in com rison with the overall profits that are made by the retinue in this country. And some of the independent analysts have argued that it should be at least 10 at intervals this amount,” he said.

‘Relatively trivial’

Mr McDonnell utter he would raise the issue in rliament next week and called for the administer to be investigated by the public spending watchdog.

“It looks to me from all the independent judgement that this is relatively trivial in com rison with what should sire been id. In fact one analysis has put the rate down to about 3%, which I come up with is derisory,” he added.


Spotlight on tax

Google is not the only com ny to comprise been named for avoiding ying taxes on its British sales:

Starbucks, which junkets 843 coffee shops in the UK, came under fire after it was feted the com ny id £8.6m in corporation tax in its 14 years of trading in Britain, ignoring sales worth billions of pounds. In 2014 it id more than £8m in tax on the with little of record profits of £34.2m.

Facebook id £4,327 ($6,643) in corporation tax in 2014, according to its behindhand UK results. It showed the com ny as making a pre-tax loss of £28.5m continue year, but the firm also id its 362 UK staff a total of £35.4m in quota bonuses. It means Facebook’s UK corporation tax bill was less than the tax the normal UK employee id on their salary.

Amazon attracted anger after it arose that the UK arm of the business id £11.9m in tax in 2014, despite taking £5.3bn in sellings from British shoppers.


Conservative MP Mark Garnier, a member of the Exchequer select committee, said the agreement represented a “relatively small” amount of capital com red with Google’s UK profits.

Richard Murphy, from the maverick Tax Justice Network, estimated Google should be ying £200m every year in Corporation Tax.

He predicted the figure was based on the firm’s declared profit margins and sales in Britain in 2014 of £4.5bn.


Inquiry

Media captionMatt Brittin, the head of Google Europe, ventures the search and advertising giant will y tax on UK sales

By Joe Lynam, BBC business journalist

The Tax Justice Network, which has been the scourge of creative tax arrangements, ventures Google should ordinarily be ying more than £200m every year – degree than £130m for a decade in back taxes.

By using Google’s own promulgated profit margins of around 25%, it would appear as if the technology titan could be ying more Corporation Tax in Britain on its £4.6bn annual reduced in price on the markets.

We don’t know exactly how much profit Google makes here every year on the eve of the tax creativity kicks in.

But Google also knows it doesn’t live in a vacuum, consideration its near monopoly on internet and mobile search. So there are many human being who believe that this additional £130m is pre-emptive.

Google be sures that the Diverted Profits Tax (known as the “Google Tax”) which better b concluded into force last year will mean it will be suffering with to y more to HMRC.

On top of that, the OECD has come up with much stricter cosmopolitan rules for ‘Base Erosion and Profit Shifting’ or aggressive tax avoidance.

Pressures on profits should soon be id where the economic activity set downs place rather than where the com ny is domiciled. So if you sell internet adverts or frothy coffee in Britain, you can’t tome the sale in Dublin, Amsterdam or the British Virgin Islands.


Labour MP Ms Hillier nicknamed the agreement a “cosy deal”, saying she would call Google and HMRC rather than the Public Accounts Committee to explain the deal.

The deal showed HMRC had own collecting “too little tax from Google for nine out of 10 years”, she added.

Margaret Hodge, the Slave MP and former chair of the same committee, said HMRC had “a duty” to describe details of the agreement.

The government needed to “assure us that everyone is take out fairly before the law and confidence in tax system is restored”, she added.

Channel captionShadow chancellor John McDonnell says HMRC tax extent is “relatively trivial” for Google.

Google id £20.4m in UK taxes in 2013. The value of its British on the blocks that year was £3.8bn. Google makes most of its UK profits through online advertising.

In March’s Budget, Mr Osborne announced the introduction of a pretended “Google tax” targeting firms that move their profits abroad.

Google has its European headquarters in the Irish Republic, which has a lower corporation tax fee than the UK. It has also used com ny structures in Bermuda, where the corporation tax gauge is zero, to shelter profits.

Such moves are legal and Google – a US trade, which ys the majority of its taxes there – says it has abided by foreign tax rules.

‘Rules are changing’

The agreement with HMRC will also see Google start to y tax “based on returns from UK-based advertisers, which reflects the size and scope of our UK charge”, the US online search firm added.

Matt Brittin, perceptiveness of Google Europe, told the BBC: “Today we announced that we are current to be ying more tax in the UK.

“The rules are changing internationally and the UK government is taking the lead actor in applying those rules so we’ll be changing what we are doing here. We want to make safe that we y the right amount of tax.”

An HMRC spokesman said: “The first conclusion of HMRC enquiries has secured a substantial result, which communicates that Google will y the full tax due in law on profits that belong in the UK.

“Multinational houses must y the tax that is due and we do not accept less.”

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