Google chairman Eric Schmidt says it is Britain’s own fault that his company has paid just £10 million in U.K. corporate taxes between 2006 and 2011, even though it had revenues of £11.9 billion in the period from the nation.
That’s because Google is simply obeying British tax law, he told the BBC:
What we are doing is legal. I’m rather perplexed by this debate, which has been going in the UK for 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.
Google’s taxes — or lack of them — have become a huge issue in the U.K., where economic growth has been stifled by the Conservative government’s austerity plan. The country remains on the edge of a “triple dip” recession.
But British voters who expect Google to pay its fair share of 23% of profits, per the corporate rate, are wrong, Schmidt says, because Google is happy to obey the tax laws however they are set up. Unfortunately for Britain, they’re set up so that Google can collect its U.K. revenues through Ireland, and then funnel that money through a Netherlands corporation that is registered in Bermuda.
We are very happy with whatever the countries all come to agreement on. We are not particularly upset about it.
Our position is very simple: taxes are not optional, we pay the mandatory amount.