Check Out All The Shell Companies Google Uses To Dodge Taxes

sergey brin cash

Google pays an effective tax rate of only 3% on its international operations. How? Through a network of shell companies, reports the Irish Times. The nexus of it all is Ireland, which has the most corporation-friendly tax code in Europe.

So its investments to build data centres in places as far afield as Vienna, Kuala Lumpur, Cairo and Bermuda are funded out of Ireland.

The most striking thing for us is how, in cliché pulp-corporate-thriller fashion, the company uses obscurely-named subsidiaries to shuffle cash around. So Google’s data centre investments are funded by a company called “Raiden, Ltd”, which has €415.3 million in assets and is a subsidiary of Google Ireland Holdings. Google Ireland Holdings, meanwhile, is owned by Google subsidiaries based in… Bermuda.

Another subsidiary, “Aegino, Ltd”, also based in Ireland, saw its assets jump from €103,100 to €137.5 million in 2009. Yet another subsidiary, “Lat-Tech DC LLC”, based in Latvia, was placed in voluntary liquidation, probably for some obscure tax reason.

And on and on and on.

Of course, all of this is technically perfectly legal. And since Google’s competitors get up to the same shenanigans, it would be shooting itself in the foot for Google to not take advantage of existing laws to lower its tax bills. In fact there’s an argument to be made that the real culprit here are governments, who endlessly poke loopholes the size of a Google data centre in their own laws and can’t coordinate their international tax collection efforts.

But how “googly”, “not evil” is all this? You decide.

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