19 May 2013

Google ‘cheats taxpayer out of millions’ – whistleblower

A former Google executive turned whistleblower claims the internet giant has cheated UK taxpayers out of hundreds of millions of pounds.

Barney Jones, 34, who worked for Google from 2002 until 2006, said the company has “pulled the wool over the eyes of HMRC and the British population”.

In an Sunday Tiems article, he claims Google has a system in place which diverts British profits through Ireland to the Bermuda tax haven and accused the company of “cheating” the British taxpayer.

The internet giant has been under increasing pressure about allegations of tax avoidance.

“The real victims are ordinary taxpayers in Britain who are being cheated by Google,” he told the paper.

“What Google is doing is immoral.”

Miliband ‘will crack down on tax dodgers’

It comes as Labour leader Ed Miliband has said he will write new rules to tackle corporate tax dodgers if he wins the next election even if there is no international consensus for action.

In an interview with the Observer, the Labour leader urged David Cameron to find agreement at the G8 summit of leaders next month on an agenda forcing corporate giants to pay their fair share.

He said that, if Cameron fails, he himself as prime minister would unilaterally act to make multinationals operating in the UK more transparent about the money they make here and the justifications for the tax they pay.

The Google allegations follow days after MPs described the internet giant’s tax operation as “devious, calculated and unethical”.

Matt Brittin, the company’s vice president, was grilled by MPs on the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Thursday over its payment of just £6m in British corporation tax in 2011.

The firm generated more than £3bn in revenue that year, but claims its UK transactions actually take place in Ireland where the corporate tax rate is significantly lower.

But MPs reacted with incredulity to claims that the company did not carry out advertising sales in the UK and accused the firm of “deliberately manipulating the reality of their business”.

Google has always strongly denied any wrongdoing – and Mr Brittin insisted the company complied “fully” with tax laws.