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UK MPs Blast "Evil" Google

By Oonagh Reidy | Friday | 17/05/2013

"The height of hypocrisy": Senior British politicians blast search giant, whose crafty tax practices leaves the public kitty out of pocket.

Its ethos is "don't be evil". 

But British MPs think otherwise, as the search giant is accused of dodging tax in many countries in which it operates, including UK, Australia, by funneling revenues and gigantic profits through low tax areas like Ireland and Holland.  

The tax practices are known as Double Irish and Dutch sandwich, also used by other US tech giants Apple, Amazon, Google all of whom have their European Headquarters in Ireland, as does Facebook. 

Google's North Europe boss, Matt Brittin, got a grilling from UK's Public Accounts Committee Thursday, after the search giant was recalled to appear before the committee, accused of misleading parliment, after it first appeared before the PAC last year defending its low tax bill in the UK, reports The Guardian. 

UK tax authorities have been investigating Google since 2009. Australian authorities too have voiced their anger at Google's questionable tax practices. 

Margaret Hodge, chair of the UK public accounts committee, said to Brittin:

"You are a company that says you 'do no evil'. And I think that you do do evil  in that you use smoke and mirrors to avoid paying tax." Last year the Google boss told the PAC all sales were conducted by its Irish operation, thus paid tax in that jurisdication. 

Google paid just 3.4m of a tax bill in the UK, recent figures show.

A former Treasury spokesperson Lord Oakeshott said Google's Chairman Eric Schmidt comments on the tax issue as "the height of hypocrisy".

"If the British government is serious about tax dodgers, David Cameron must remove him from the business advisory council which is a personal appointment. Clearly Google are driving a coach and horses through the spirit of the law."

Google profit soared to $3.35 billion on revenues of almost $14 bn in its latest quarter - up almost half a billion compared to same time 2012, as it continues its global Internet domination.  

Pity it can put its money where its mouth is. 

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