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Google tax whistleblower goes public

A FORMER GOOGLE EMPLOYEE has added to the controversy surrounding the search engine’s tax affairs, claiming several sales deals were concluded in London instead of its European headquarters in Dublin.

Google maintains that the role of its London team is to drum up business, before deals are concluded by their Irish counterparts, allowing it to book the revenue in Dublin where to corporate tax rate is 12.5%.Companies are taxed based on where their economic activity takes place.

Barney Jones, who provided testimony to the Public Accounts Committee last week, claimed he had been present at meetings where deals were concluded in the UK. In particular, he cited contracts with eBay, the online auction site, Kelkoo, a price comparison website, and Lloyds TSB, the Sunday Times reports.

During the hearing, committee chair Margaret Hodge told Google vice-president for Northern Europe Matt Brittin his company’s activities were both “evil” and “devious”.

“The real victims are ordinary taxpayers in Britain who are being cheated by Google,” said Jones, who marketed Google’s services to prospective clients. “They don’t have the means to hire accountants to pretend they make their money in Ireland, Bermuda or the British Virgin Islands. What Google is doing is immoral.”

He added that he is prepared to hand over a cache of e-mails from his four-year stint with the company to HM Revenue and Customs evidencing his allegations.

Google reiterated it pays the tax due on its UK activities.

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