Google Faces Fresh Grilling Over Low Tax Bills

Google has been recalled to a parliamentary inquiry after inconsistencies were revealed in statements about its UK activities.
Vice president of the Internet search giant, Matt Brittin, is being grilled by the Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) this morning.
The hearing comes after Reuters revealed the company had described its London offices on its website as a base for sales teams and advertised dozens of London-based sales vacancies.
At a hearing in November, Mr Brittin said that all UK sales were carried out from Ireland and that no sales took place from Britain.
Google has denied that Mr Brittin misled the PAC in November.
The firm's auditor Ernst & Young will also be probed by the PAC. In January, John Dixon, head of tax policy at Ernst & Young in London, told MPs his firm checked to ensure a tax client's activities on the ground matched what was claimed in their accounts.
It came as newly-published accounts revealed that's main UK unit only paid £2.4m in taxes in 2012 on sales of £4.3bn.
Chairwoman of the committee, Margaret Hodge, revealed that Amazon also faced being dragged back to the inquiry to explain its finances.
It is believed the company was able to report the relatively small corporate income tax bill because its sales to British customers are routed through a Luxembourg affiliate, Amazon EU Sarl.
Mrs Hodge told The Guardian: "My committee has real concerns about the extent to which companies like Amazon are stretching the rules in order to avoid paying their fair share in tax.
"By any measure of common sense Amazon appears to have a proper established presence in the UK, and that there is a discrepancy between some of the evidence in this report about its activities in the UK and what the committee was told by Amazon when they appeared before us last year.
“We will now consider whether we need to recall them to explain that discrepancy."
A report last December by the committee accused both companies, along with Starbucks, of "immorally" minimising their UK tax bills.
The firms were criticised for the "unconvincing and, in some cases, evasive" evidence they gave on why their corporation tax payments are so low.


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