Quoted: Europe cracks down on Google, others over taxes

“The days are numbered for companies that avoid tax at expense of others.”

Pierre Moscovici, the European Union’s tax chief, as he announced Thursday a crackdown on tax avoidance by multinational companies that shift their profits to low-tax countries in Europe. Proposed new rules, which have to be approved by all EU member countries, will close tax loopholes and require companies to report financial results in all the countries they operate.

Google isn’t the only multinational company under tax scrutiny in Europe, but it’s the one in the spotlight at the moment. The EU is looking into the settlement announced last week between Google and the U.K., in which the Silicon Valley company agreed to pay $185 million in back taxes. And Google is facing new accusations of evading taxes, with Italian officials saying the company avoided paying more than $300 million in taxes in that country from 2008 to 2013.

The European Parliament estimates that the region loses up to 70 billion euros ($76 billion) a year because of companies’ tax-avoidance strategies, according to CNNMoney.

Peter Barron, Google VP for communications and public affairs, wrote in a letter to the Financial Times on Wednesday that Google pays the 20 percent tax required in the U.K.

“Governments make tax law, the tax authorities independently enforce the law, and Google complies with the law,” Barron wrote.

In December, Apple settled a tax-evasion case with Italy for $350 million. That deal covered back taxes from 2008 to 2013 as well. Other American companies that have paid or have been ordered to pay back taxes in Europe include Amazon and Starbucks.


Photo: Pierre Moscovici, EU Commissioner in charge of Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs, addresses a press conference on tackling tax avoidance in the EU at the European Commission in Brussels on January 28, 2016. (EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)


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  • joel_in_oakland

    Suppose anyone in the Obama administration will take notice?

    Possibly they’re too busy lining up jobs through the revolving door, since one way or another, it’ll be a new administration in a year. Wouldn’t want to antagonize any possible future employers, after all.