Google chief 'perplexed' by tax row

Google chief 'perplexed' by tax row

Google boss Eric Schmidt today said he was “perplexed” by the debate over the company’s tax affairs.

The internet giant’s executive chairman insisted the company paid everything it was legally required to in the UK and suggested it was up to the Government to change the law if it wanted more from the firm.

Google has come under fire over reports that it paid only £10m (€11.6m) in corporation tax in the UK between 2006 and 2011, despite revenues of £11.9bn (€13.9bn).

Mr Schmidt told BBC Radio 4’s Start the Week: “What we are doing is legal. I’m rather perplexed by this debate, which has been going in the UK for quite some time because I view taxes as not optional.

“I view that you should pay the taxes that are legally required. It’s not a debate. You pay the taxes.

“If the British system changes the tax laws then we will comply. If the taxes go up we will pay more, if they go down we will pay less. That is a political decision for the democracy that is the United Kingdom.”

Much of the company’s UK profits are understood to be routed through Ireland.

Mr Schmidt was hauled before the public accounts committee earlier this month to account for Google’s tax affairs after MPs were unhappy with the company’s previous evidence.

Britain's Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg also raised the controversy directly with Mr Schmidt at a meeting in Downing Street and days later Labour’s Ed Miliband told the corporation at its own “Big Tent” event it should not be going to ”extraordinary lengths” to avoid paying taxes.

Mr Schmidt dismissed suggestions that a legalistic approach to paying taxes did not sit well with Google’s pledges on social responsibility.

He said: “I do not agree with this and the reason is that at least under American law we have a fiduciary responsibility to our shareholders to account for things properly so if we were, for example, to just arbitrarily decide to pay a different tax rate than we were required to, a more favourable one for example to a particular country, how would we account for that?

“How would we file the necessary paperwork, what would be the legal consequences in other countries?

“Somehow these questions are ignored in the debate. We are very happy with whatever the countries all come to agreement on. We are not particularly upset about it.”

He added: “Our position is very simple, taxes are not optional, we pay the mandatory amount.”

More in this Section

Google plans to invest €3bn in EuropeGoogle plans to invest €3bn in Europe

We deal with uncertainty every day: Dover port boss dismisses Brexit chaos fearsWe deal with uncertainty every day: Dover port boss dismisses Brexit chaos fears

Royal Bank of Scotland appoints Alison Rose as new CEORoyal Bank of Scotland appoints Alison Rose as new CEO

Thomas Cook told to find £200m as it tries to stave off collapseThomas Cook told to find £200m as it tries to stave off collapse


Audrey's been sorting out Cork people for ages.Ask Audrey: C’mere, what’s the story with Chris O’Dowd thinking he’s better than Cork people

So, I put a link to a short story up for my students the other day. The story was by Michael Morpurgo and I was delighted to find an online copy. It can be challenging when you are relying on non-paper texts to teach.Secret diary of an Irish teacher: I love physical books and always will

Celebrated actress Siobhán McSweeney may have found fame starring in a TV series set at the other end of the country, but Cork is never far from her thoughts, writes Ciara McDonnellHome is where the art is for Derry Girls actress

There are literally hundreds of free events on offer this evening for kids and adults on Culture Night. Marjorie Brennan selects the best of them, in Cork and beyondCulture Night: Get out and make the most of it

More From The Irish Examiner