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Google accused by PAC of using 'smoke and mirrors' to avoid tax

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The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee heard from representatives from Google, Ernst & Young and HMRC on 16 May. The hearing follows news of a whistleblowing former Google employee who reportedly is to hand over 100,000 emails and documents to HMRC, which allegedly show that Google’s London staff negiotiated contracts with British customers, only for them to be booked through the Dublin office in order to minimise tax.

In a heated exchange at the PAC hearing, the PAC’s chairperson, Margaret Hodge MP, accused Google of doing ‘evil’ by using ‘smoke and mirrors to avoid paying tax’. Google’s Matt Brittin said he stood by evidence given previously to the PAC, saying ‘nobody here can agree a price or a volume discount, they can only encourage that to happen.’

Responding to the PAC’s criticisms levelled at HMRC, HMRC’s CEO Lin Homer told the PAC: ‘We are duty bound to collect and investigate under regulations, set out by lawmakers, not on what you’d like us to collect.’ She went on to say that ‘this is a matter for the application of expert tax knowledge. I’m afraid that that is something I think we do rather better than a select committee.’

Issue: 1170
Categories: News , Corporate taxes