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Google boss defends corporate tax dodge

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I have a bit of downtime in Berlin (great city, although the weather has been extremely wet and cold!) and wanted to post my thoughts on Matt Brittin’s comments that I read in yesterday’s Telegraph. Brittin blamed politicians rather than Google for any wrong doing, but also stated that Google isn’t immoral. What are your initial thoughts?


Firstly, I will document some of Brittin’s quotes:

It’s the wrong bias to think everyone is out to cheat

I find it frustrating when we’re criticised because m not immoral and neither is Google. If Google were immoral, I wold not be working here…I’m proud of the way we operate

Google plays by the rules set by politicians. the only people who really have choices are politicians who set the tax rates

Google paid a mere £6m corporation tax on £2.5bn revenues in 2011, compare that to the £281m paid by Morrisons, a quarter of the supermarkets profits.

Although I agree with Mr Brittin’s opinion that George Osbourne must intervene, I do think he is being extremely naive when assessing Google’s innocence within all of this. Illegal? No. Immoral? Yes. If he stopped looking through his Chrome tinted glasses, he may be in a position to say “we don’t care how we look, we’re going to make/save as much money as we can”.

Same goes for Matt Cutts who inexplicably defended the June 2009 UK SERPS update, which had a number of irrelevant websites popping up all over the place. Why buy flowers in Covent Garden when there is a great florist in Seattle or Boston. Type “Southbank restaurants” from a London IP and see what you get still. Nice little trip to Australia there for you!

Google is an amazing company. I love the search engine and I’m a big fan,seriously, of Google+. But we don’t need Mr Brittin’s naive and self righteous comments about a company that is quite clearly throwing its weight around, like Amazon and Starbucks. Yes, the government has to intervene and hopefully it will, but I guess we’ll have to listen to Matt Cutts and co answer a question no one asked for a while longer yet.

3 Responses to Google boss defends corporate tax dodge

  1. Sid Brittin says:

    I image that SEO Trench is not your name and if so I have no idea who you are. I also imagine that you personally only pay income tax at the required level and no more. Both you and Google are therefore paying what HMRC legally requires. If it wants you or any company to pay more than it currently collects it must amend what is an already confusing and complicated tax scheme which has evolved over the years by government plugging loopholes. Margaret Hodge , who is a director and shareholder of a family business which banks offshore, also must be aware of the loophole! Morality does not compete with common sense.

  2. seotrench says:

    Sid.

    My name is obviously not SEO Trench and I wouldn’t expect you to know who I am, why would you? My profile for the website is here:

    http://www.seo-trench.com/about/

    As I stated within the blog, I agree with Brittin’s comments that the government is to blame for the complicated tax setup, its more his defence of Google that I found tedious. Surely reputation management is key here and this isn’t the best way to go about it – all guns blazing? I don’t care if he thinks Google is immoral or not, what has that got to do with anything?

    Sid – do you think Google/Amazon/Starbucks should continue like this or does Osbourne need to take action?

  3. seotrench says:

    Sid. The reason I asked that question is due to the following:

    http://news.sky.com/story/1019608/tax-row-starbucks-name-has-become-tarnished
    ^ Obviously concerned with how they’re perceived in the UK?

    And even though no laws have been changed yet, the’ve publicly stated they’re looking at revising their tax policy in the UK -

    http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/united-kingdom/121202/starbucks-reconsider-its-no-tax-status-the-uk

    So, as I’m sure you’ll agree with my blog statement, that the government is to blame for the setup but the likes of Starbucks are actively trying to reduce the negativity around this story.

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