Remember Google's motto of 'Don't be evil'? With no sense of irony, MPs are the latest to call this into question...
The Times reports the search giant has allegedly not paid any tax on its £1.6bn of advertising revenues in Britain last year. This occurred after Google diverted all earnings to its Irish subsidiary which denied the UK over £450m in corporation tax. Ireland has lower corporation tax rates of 10-25 per cent verses the 28-30 per cent in the UK.
Consequently Liberal Democrats deputy leader Vince Cable has rounded on Google demanding it "pay its fair share", stating: "Avoidance like this is hard to stomach at the best of times, but when the country is in recession and everyone is feeling the pain, it really sticks in the throat — it means higher taxes for the rest of us. Google’s reputation will be severely damaged if it continues to behave in this way. It is ducking its social responsibility.”
Labour MP Austin Mitchell has also jumped on the bandwagon declaring: "Google isn’t just sucking money out of local newspapers and other people who rely on advertising for a living — it’s also draining money out of the public finances. The search engine is a marvellous service, but the company is run by tax avoiders. If they are going to make so much money here they need to give more back to society."
Naturally enough Google is none too pleased with such claims, responding: "Google makes a big investment in the UK, with over 800 employees, and we make a substantial contribution to local and national taxation... we comply fully with the tax laws in all the countries in which we operate."
We'll wait for the authorities to make an official conclusion on this one, but on the surface of things it appears Google has been clever rather than unlawful. In which case there's another loop hole for you to close Gordon...