back to article Europe: Go on. Ask us to probe the £130m 'sweetheart' deal HMRC made with Google

The EU's Competition Commissioner has said Europe would probe Google's £130m sweetheart deal with the UK government "if asked" - following growing calls for Brussels to scrutinise the deal. The Scottish Nationalist Party has today written to Brussels to investigate the arrangement. Stewart Hosie MP said: "The truth is that we …

  1. TRT Silver badge

    If only...

    they had some sort of software that they could use to index and query the Government websites concerning tax rates...

    1. DavCrav

      Re: If only...

      The rate is clear. The main question is, "to how much money should that rate be applied?" So Google books all its sales through Ireland, even though the people are in the UK, the UK government has a paltry tax take from this, and somehow this is the UK government's fault, and not Ireland's?

      The EU needs to come down hard on someone over this intra-EU domicile-shopping nonsense, and that someone is a little west of the UK, then also Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Of course, if they want to have a massive go at the UK over the Cayman Islands, Isle of Man, Channel Islands, etc., then that would also be appreciated.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: If only...

        Ireland has already changed their tax law to close this loophole, though it won't take full effect on existing users till 2020.

        That still leaves their 12.5% tax and territorial taxation but the EU enforcing rates and codes across the EU would instantly cause the UK to leave and risk a greater breakup in the rest of the continent. Don't go there.

        1. DavCrav

          Re: If only...

          "territorial taxation"

          That's the loophole.

  2. wolfetone Silver badge

    This would only be used to further prove that the EU mess with UK only affairs. And for the people who swear by The S*n, The Daily Fail, The Daily Shitpress, will buy in to this. "We got them to pay lots of money in tax that they owed! F**k off EU!".

    But, for the minority of the UK who don't need to read such trash, we know we got a raw deal with the payment. France are screwing Google for more money, why couldn't we?

    So I welcome the EU intervention here. I may not 100% agree with being part of the EU, but if it served to show the shambles of a chancellor we have then I'm all for it.

    1. Oh Matron!

      From the beeb:" The PM told the Commons the tax "should have been collected under [the last] Labour government"."

      Hasn't Dave been in power for 5 years? Or has it been such a blur for him, he doesn't realise this?

      1. sandman

        He's been "chillaxed" for all those years ;-)

      2. Paul Crawford Silver badge

        He has been poking telling porkies again...

        1. wolfetone Silver badge

          *to the tune of "The Bad Touch" by The Bloodhound Gang*

          Swine baby,

          Swine baby,

          Pigs have sexy snouts

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Don't forget the sub-prime mortgage failures in the US are also Labour's fault as well as JFK getting shot and the passing of Elvis, the sandwich was actually purchased from Ed Miliband and made by Ed Balls.

        I honestly don't know why we bother, google are now too big to pay tax and will avoid it at all costs. Government can give it all their bluster and bullshit but until they fix the tax laws nothing will change.

      4. Andrew Richards

        Doesn't the tax recovered apply to some years prior to 2010?

      5. Roland6 Silver badge

        From the beeb:" The PM told the Commons the tax "should have been collected under [the last] Labour government"."

        Should of read a little further: "Google agreed to pay £130m of tax dating back to 2005 to HMRC".

      6. Triggerfish

        There's no time I have watched any commons debate when I have actually thought the MP's are actually there to do something other than go it's your fault, no it's your fault, no it's your... ad infinitum.

        If it was some of the places I have worked we'd get rid of dipshits like this because they don't actually add any value to progressing along, the other places unfortunately we would promote them to middle managers.

        Personally I'm happy to see them all go the way of the Syrius Cybernetics Corportaion.

      7. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        Some of the back tax collected should have been paid in the labour years. It's a fact, absolutely nothing wrong with his statement.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      We should also remember the UK has long been a world leader at creating tax avoidance schemes and playing the 'screw my neighbours' games with business incentives. Our govs have dug a deep deep hole as a system that brought collateral benefits to our economy fails, in a world of trading intangibles.

      1. Robert Grant

        I didn't know about this - anyone have any details/links about it?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          no. that's the problem.

    3. Len

      The point is that the EU only "messes" with this on request of UK citizens/parliament. Considering multiple people in the UK have requested this the EU can review this case.

      Frankly I am glad there is some additional point to turn to if Westminster turns out to be too corrupt not necessarily working for the good of the country.

      1. Hans 1

        >Westminster turns out to be not necessarily working for the good of the country.

        Wake me when any government works for the country as opposed to corporations ...

        1. Rich 11

          Depends on how you define 'good of the country' The current shower (and their predecessors, sadly) go far too much on the economy of the country being more important than the actual people of the country.

      2. Roland6 Silver badge

        "the EU only "messes" with this on request of UK citizens/parliament"

        However, the nature of their review (if they decide to investigate) is limited to only considering whether the deal can be classified as "state aid" and hence be assessed as being unfair...

    4. Roland6 Silver badge

      " we know we got a raw deal with the payment.",

      No we don't as the details (ie. the numbers and their placement on the tax returns) are confidential and it is highly unlikely that HMRC would disclose them to the EU.

      "France are screwing Google for more money"

      France are playing hardball negotiations and hence are demanding more money; however the only country who has achieved a deal is the UK. Also the evidence (OECD tax take from corporations) indicates that HMRC have consistently done better than many others in getting corporations to pay tax...

  3. Black Road Dude

    Tax Law Suck

    Google is a huge corporate but if you took at any business or individual for that matter and showed them how to 100% legally reduce their tax bill would they not do it?

    It may be morally dubious to underpay tax but legally there is no issue. Our tax laws are so full of holes its ridiculous. And the more money companies or individuals make the more they can pay accountants to find loopholes.

    I love the remarks in the media about making sure they "pay more tax" but if its from a period when little no tax was legally owed we cant retrospectively change the tax laws to suit current thinking.

    We can and I believe they are looking into introducing more tax rules to target the tax loopholes they are currently using. But until the tax rule is a one liner with no wiggle room its just going to be a game of cat and mouse. ( Where the mouse is a multi billion corporate that can have a very well funded team of accountants looking for new flaws and law loopholes and the cat is an under funded department having to deal with thousands of requests daily and also make judgements on small companies and individuals tax cases daily who cannot possibly dedicate the resources to monitor and take to task one huge corporate let alone all of those in the uk. )

    1. Andy Nugent

      Re: Tax Law Suck

      And where the mouse always has years to find the loop holes from when the tax laws are set and the first set of accounts are due to be filed. I doubt governments are ever going to be able to outmaneuver large corporations, even if the political will was there.

    2. Rich 11

      Re: Tax Law Suck

      but if you took at any business or individual for that matter and showed them how to 100% legally reduce their tax bill would they not do it?

      Knowing that if everyone were to do that, then what little remains of our public services would collapse? No, I would not. I'm happy for my taxes to be used to provide essential services, like roads and education, and the essential safety net of health and social security. I might argue as to whether they're always being used wisely, but I don't argue against taxes in principle nor do I try to avoid paying them.

      1. Black Road Dude

        Re: Tax Law Suck

        I agree I'm a standard rate taxpayer and I'm more than happy to pay my part of the bill.

        But we also have no choice as loopholes at our level are few and far between.

        Maybe you're right its corporate attitude that's the problem where morals and social justice are ignored. Maybe I was too hasty to tar everyone with the same brush.

  4. John G Imrie

    The zeroth rule

    "Governments make tax law, the tax authorities independently enforce the law, and Google complies with the law"

    He missed out the zeroth rule

    Companies lobby Governments for favourable tax law.

    So the full statement should be

    Google lobby's Governments for favourable tax law. Governments make tax law, the tax authorities independently enforce the law, and Google complies with the law

  5. Anonnymous Hero

    Lean the Tax Process

    rather than arguing over the ineffectiveness of the over-complicated Profit based tax laws. Why not simplify the tax system and tax on Revenue generated from UK customers.

    1. djberriman

      Re: Lean the Tax Process

      How the **** do you tax revenue? Please explain....

      1. Anonnymous Hero

        Re: Lean the Tax Process

        Really easily. its vastly easier to calculate revenue than profit and doesn't have as much scope for creativity as profit as you cant just make up costs. Companies tend to use sales revenue by geography for targets so there BI systems are already setup to report it. A 1% tax on revenue would easily net more than current corporate tax on profits.

        1. Black Road Dude

          Re: Lean the Tax Process

          Maybe rather than a tax on revenue we simply tax all money transfer at the rate of 1%. (Possibly would need to be higher?)

          That would be sales or payments etc. We could scrap all taxes in that case as my purchase of an item from a corporate at 1% then their purchase cost from the manufacturers at 1% and thw manufacturers purchase of raw materials from suppliers at 1% its likely alot more than we get currently from corporation tax. And payments to staff taxed at the same rate. It would mean moving the money out the country would cost the same again.

      2. Andy Nugent

        Re: Lean the Tax Process

        You could increase VAT, and allow companies to offset the extra VAT levied against profits / corporation tax (so that smaller businesses who aren't big enough to offshore their profits can compete on a level(er) playing field against big corporations).

        So say if you have a 10% profit margin, of which small businesses would previously pay 20-28% corporation tax, and big businesses offshore it and pay nothing, you'd then have a 7-8% profit margin of which small businesses would be no worse off (as they'd pay no corporation tax), and large businesses who offshore their profits would be (or they'd raise their prices, and be less competitive against smaller / local firms). Whether there's enough smaller / local firms to keep them from just passing on the price rise would be the big unknown.

      3. Roj Blake Silver badge

        Re: Lean the Tax Process

        I'm taxed on how much money my employer gives me, not on how much money I have at the end of the month.

        This is effectively the taxing of revenue.

    2. Whitter

      Re: Lean the Tax Process

      Not sure on the last bit but simplifying the tax code is clearly a must-do.

      Alas, complicating the tax-code to ensure it is riven with "the right holes" has been the lifework of a great number of people and most of those in parliament, so unlikely to occur. Sometimes even for misplaced "good cause" (to manipulate investment; public behaviour etc. via the tax code).

  6. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Hidden Unrealised Benefits are Surely Monstrous and Easily Overwhelming.

    How much is Google's help to governments worth/valued at? Care to add that to the tax on work in and with the UK and A.N.Other Lands and LANetworks, for a more real indication of Additional Wealth Supply.

    Does Google Supply Provision Novel NEUKlearer HyperRadioProActive IT Intellectual Property ..... Supposed Immaculate Source? Or is that AI Working Remarkably Well?

    cc ... Google DeepMinders

  7. Mr Templedene

    Who do I write to? and where!

  8. John Lilburne

    This just supports ...

    ... the claim that 80% of Evil contains traces of Google.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's inevitable, Corporations will replace Governments

    Corporations will eventually become so large that their gross revenue exceeds that of all major countries combined. It's close enough right now and bound to get worse.

    At that point, Corporations will become the Government. They already make their own rules and one of the most dangerous is the "I'll take my ball and go home, if..." because it COULD bankrupt an entire continent.

    Sooner or later this will happen. You won't have much say in the matter if they start lending money to your country.

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: It's inevitable, Corporations will replace Governments

      Government will enjoy that, AC, as public and private ire zeroes in on the new? source of all of their problems. Eventually the truth will always out and corporate heads will be head hunted.

      It is perfectly logical and unavoidable in such an instance.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It's inevitable, Corporations will replace Governments

      I believe the East India Company laboured under the same misapprehension as did the Knights Templar several hundred years earlier.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The main problem is that Google 'negotiated'

    That's why the EU was probing Ireland about Apple. It isn't Ireland's base rate, which they can set however they want. It is the fact that Apple was paying less due to a sweetheart deal that's not open to others. The same thing appears to be the case with Google.

    If some guy who has a small business in the US that does some sales in the UK and EU did 1/1000th of the revenue Google does in the UK, do you think he'd be able to score meetings with the officials like Google did and negotiate his taxes down to 1/1000th of what the UK wants Google to pay?

    Dream on, they'd tell him he has to pay the full whack, plus penalties, or he'll be banned from doing business in the UK and arrested if he ever turns up in Heathrow's customs line.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: The main problem is that Google 'negotiated'

      If you really only have a small business in the US and hence no UK onshore operation, that business would be classified as import and HMRC would only be interested in it to the extent that relevant customs duties and VAT had been applied to the transaction and paid.

      But then if you really were a "small business in the US" doing 4.6m GBP (Googles UK revenues in 2104) of business in the UK per annum, I suggest you would be looking very seriously at financial and tax efficiencies and hence would be likely to be advised to implement arrangements similar to Google's. Also you would be largely flying under HMRC's radar and would probably want to keep things that way; given your primary concern would be the IRS...

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