Google Accused Of UK Tax Avoidance

    April 20, 2009

It’s well known that big corporations employ brilliant accountants in an effort to save money at every turn.  Google seems to have been caught doing some less than up-front things, however, as the search giant’s been accused of routing revenue through Ireland in order to avoid a big UK tax bill. 

Google Logo

The Sunday Times hired an accountant to investigate Google, and Robert Watts reported this weekend, "More than 90% of Google’s UK revenues are channelled through Ireland, where corporation tax is levied at 12.5%, compared with 28% in Britain."  This supposedly saved the company £110 million (or about $160 million at the current exchange rate) in 2007.

Also, "Google avoided a further €135m [or $173 million] in tax from Ireland during 2007.  The search engine’s Irish subsidiary is owned by one of two companies Google has set up in the tax haven of Bermuda."

And as you might expect, a great many people are now rather unhappy.  Vince Cable, the deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, and Austin Mitchell, a Labour MP, both pointed out that tax dodges effectively put more of a burden on honest organizations and individuals.

Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (a department of the British government "here to ensure the correct tax is paid at the right time") may take action.  In the meantime, Google has at least raised some serious questions about right, wrong, and high tax rates.