Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/04/22/schmidt_defends_google_tax_again/

Eric Schmidt defends Google's teeny UK tax payouts - again

Brit firms in US do the same, sniffs Choc Factory chief

By Brid-Aine Parnell

Posted in Financial News, 22nd April 2013 10:31 GMT

Eric Schmidt has once again said that it was totally fine for Google to pay just £6m in UK corporation tax - even though it's a multi-billion dollar company.

Google was one of several big multinationals, including Starbucks and Amazon, that were singled out for criticism over how little tax they pay in Blighty.

With regular folks already pretty outraged about having to put up with austerity, after a global financial crisis that most blamed on the banks, hearing that giant firms were avoiding paying their "fair share" really put the cat among the pigeons - making the issue another favourite target for anti-austerity ire.

The government put a bunch of MPs on the case, the Public Accounts Committee, whose general verdict was that while companies weren't doing anything legally wrong when they shifted profits around the world to lower their total tax bill, the practice was "immoral".

Schmidt said at the time that he was "very proud" of Google's corporate structure, which shunts profits from countries like Britain to low-tax havens like Ireland and the Netherlands.

"It's called capitalism," he stated baldly. "We are proudly capitalistic. I'm not confused about this."

The ad giant's boss was slightly more apologetic in an interview with BBC Radio 4 but he still defended the company's tax record, saying that the Chocolate Factory spent plenty of money in the UK and helped the economy along in other ways aside from tax.

"Britain has been a very good market for us... We empower literally billions of pounds of start-ups through our advertising network and so forth," he claimed. "And we're a key part of the electronic commerce expansion of Britain, which is driving a lot of economic growth for the country."

Schmidt also trotted out the time-honoured "everyone else is doing it so why shouldn't we" excuse.

"This is the way taxes are done globally … The same is true for British firms operating in the US, for example," he said.

"I think the most important thing to say about our taxes is that we fully comply with the law and we'll obviously, should the law change, comply with that as well."

The Public Accounts Committee had not returned a request for comment at the time of publication. ®