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Google's tax avoidance is called 'capitalism', says chairman


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#1 key2thecup

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Posted 13 December 2012 - 03:58 PM

Reminds me of that story where GE (General Electric) Paid $0.00 in taxes... Mega corporations get tax exemptions, middle class gets the bill. If a normal citizen funneled profits into a overseas nation bank account to avoid paying taxes he/she would be boot-stomped by IRS agents.



Google's tax avoidance is called 'capitalism', says chairman Eric Schmidt

Google chairman Eric Schmidt has insisted that he is "very proud" of the company's tax structure, and said that measures to lower its payments were just "capitalism".


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Mr Schmidt's comments risk inflaming the row over the amount of tax multinationals pay, after it emerged that Google funnelled $9.8bn of revenues from international subsidiaries into Bermuda last year in order to halve its tax bill.



Mr Schmidt's comments risk inflaming the row over the amount of tax multinationals pay, after it emerged that Google funnelled $9.8bn (£6.07bn) of revenues from international subsidiaries into Bermuda last year in order to halve its tax bill.


However, Mr Schmidt defended the company's legitimate tax arrangements. “We pay lots of taxes; we pay them in the legally prescribed ways,” he told Bloomberg. “I am very proud of the structure that we set up. We did it based on the incentives that the governments offered us to operate.”


“It’s called capitalism,” he said. “We are proudly capitalistic. I’m not confused about this.”

In Britain Vince Cable was unimpressed by Mr Schmidt’s views. The Business Secretary told The Daily Telegraph: “It may well be [capitalism] but it’s certainly not the job of governments to accommodate it.”


A Californian pressure group called Consumer Watchdog wrote to the Senate’s Finance Committee demanding a hearing on Google’s “global tax avoidance strategies”.


Consumer Watchdog’s director John Simpson called for the Committee to schedule a time for Mr Schmidt and Google’s chief executive could “testify under oath and explain their company’s apparent abuse of the tax code to the detriment of all who play fairly.”

Mr Simpson urged the Senate to work with “other countries’ tax authorities” to “put an end to egregious loopholes that allow cynical exploitation by this generation’s Robber Barons.”

“Governments in Europe, many of which have ben targets of Google’s morally bankrupt tax policies, are actively seeking redress,” he wrote. “But this is not a problem that only impacts other countries’ revenues. Google’s tactics strike at the US Treasury as well, forcing the rest of us to make up for the Internet giant’s unwillingness to pay its fair share.”

He added: “What makes Google’s activities so reprehensible is its hypocritical assertion of its corporate motto, 'Don’t Be Evil'.”

Documents filed last month in the Netherlands show that Britain is Google’s second biggest market generating 11pc of its sales, or $4.1bn last year.

But the company paid just £6m in corporation tax. Overall, Google paid a rate of 3.2pc on its overseas earnings, despite generating most of its revenues in high-tax jurdisdictions in Europe.
The company reportedly uses complex tax schemes called the Double Irish and Dutch Sandwich, which take large royalty payments from international subsidiaries and pay tax in low rate regimes.
By channelling its revenues through Bermuda, Google avoided $2bn of global income levies last year.

The tax arrangements add fuel to accusations made by British MPs that Google and other firms including Starbucks and Amazon, have been “immorally” minimising its tax bills.

Matt Brittin, Google’s UK boss, said MPs were blaming companies for a system that they had designed. “Google plays by the rules set by politicians,” he said. “The only people who really have choices are politicians who set the tax rates.”

Last week, Starbucks caved into public pressure and promised to pay £20m to the Treasury over the next two years. However the trigger more criticism of “optional” tax payments.

http://www.telegraph...ic-Schmidt.html


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#2 DeNiro

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Posted 13 December 2012 - 04:00 PM

Yea, but lets not increase taxes for rich corporations. It would scare all the jobs away. What a bunch of BS.
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#3 RUPERTKBD

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Posted 13 December 2012 - 04:01 PM

Of course, this seems obscene to most people, however, I put the blame squarely at the feet of the government that set up the system in the first place, rather than the corporations that take advantage of it.
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#4 J.R.

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Posted 13 December 2012 - 04:08 PM

Of course, this seems obscene to most people, however, I put the blame squarely at the feet of the government that set up the system in the first place, rather than the corporations that take advantage of it.


Who do you think lobbied those governments?

The problem isn't that Google specifically is doing this, the problem is that ALL THE CORPORATIONS ARE DOING THIS. The problem is that there are perfectly legal ways of doing this in the first place.
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#5 DeNiro

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Posted 13 December 2012 - 04:08 PM

Of course, this seems obscene to most people, however, I put the blame squarely at the feet of the government that set up the system in the first place, rather than the corporations that take advantage of it.


And what about the rich billionaires like Warren Buffet and Bill Gates that are willing to pay more in taxes?

If these big corporations had any loyalty to the country that made them wealthy, they wouldn't be trying to use every loophole in the tax code to get out of paying taxes. It's just greed at it's finest.
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#6 J.R.

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Posted 13 December 2012 - 04:10 PM

And what about the rich billionaires like Warren Buffet and Bill Gates that are willing to pay more in taxes?

If these big corporations had any loyalty to the country that made them wealthy, they wouldn't be trying to use every loophole in the tax code to get out of paying taxes. It's just greed at it's finest.


I don't blame people (or corporations) for using every loophole available to their advantage. It's a dog eat dog world and if you don't use them, your competitor is guaranteed to! The easiest and best solution is to get rid of the loopholes.
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#7 Lockout Casualty

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Posted 13 December 2012 - 04:11 PM

I don't blame people (or corporations) for using every loophole available to their advantage. It's a dog eat dog world and if you don't use them, your competitor is guaranteed to! The easiest and best solution is to get rid of the loopholes.


Clog up the hole that's sinking the ship, as it were.
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#8 key2thecup

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Posted 13 December 2012 - 04:12 PM

Of course, this seems obscene to most people, however, I put the blame squarely at the feet of the government that set up the system in the first place, rather than the corporations that take advantage of it.


Corporations lobby the gov't puppets with $$$, normal citizen cant.
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#9 woofwoofmoomoo

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Posted 13 December 2012 - 04:13 PM

I don't blame people (or corporations) for using every loophole available to their advantage. It's a dog eat dog world and if you don't use them, your competitor is guaranteed to! The easiest and best solution is to get rid of the loopholes.


Yeah, why not? They paid those politicians and lobbyists plenty to get them those breaks? So what if actual workers have to pay a third of their income instead of the 15% capital gains tax the USA has.
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#10 RUPERTKBD

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Posted 13 December 2012 - 04:14 PM

I don't blame people (or corporations) for using every loophole available to their advantage. It's a dog eat dog world and if you don't use them, your competitor is guaranteed to! The easiest and best solution is to get rid of the loopholes.


That was my thought as well. Unfortunately, with the Republicans controlling the House, I don't see any real changes on the horizon...
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#11 DeNiro

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Posted 13 December 2012 - 04:14 PM

I don't blame people (or corporations) for using every loophole available to their advantage. It's a dog eat dog world and if you don't use them, your competitor is guaranteed to! The easiest and best solution is to get rid of the loopholes.


Well they have to realize that they're going to hurt themselves in the long run. The American economy is in serious trouble, and the more the government gets screwed over by cheap corporations, the more the American people are going to suffer. It means more borrowing from, and less money being distributed among the middle class, or corporations biggest consumers.

It's easy to say, just close the loopholes. It's not so easy when the Republicans controlling the house are against it.
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#12 key2thecup

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Posted 13 December 2012 - 04:29 PM

That was my thought as well. Unfortunately, with the Republicans controlling the House, I don't see any real changes on the horizon...


lol it always has to be some elementary left v right thing, time to realize both parties are ridiculously corrupt.

Edited by key2thecup, 13 December 2012 - 04:31 PM.

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#13 silverpig

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Posted 13 December 2012 - 04:44 PM

Public companies are required by law to do everything they can to maximize shareholder value. While there is grey area here, essentially, they are bound by law to take advantage of the loopholes in order to keep the money. It is exactly capitalism.

Now, the government should be smarter than that and close the loopholes.
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#14 AK_19

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Posted 13 December 2012 - 05:14 PM

I don't really see Google at fault here, just the politicians caving to lobbyists who create these loopholes.
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#15 Wetcoaster

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Posted 13 December 2012 - 05:21 PM

Tax avoidance is lawful.

Tax evasion is not.

As long as individuals do not evade taxes and take advantage of tax strategies permitted by law then there should be no issue. It is up to the legislature to make changes if it wishes to make such practises unlawful.
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#16 kyledude

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Posted 13 December 2012 - 06:14 PM

Maybe they shouldn't have foreign mega-corporations writing their tax code. Time to fix their inept government.
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#17 Fathoms

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Posted 13 December 2012 - 06:16 PM

And what about the rich billionaires like Warren Buffet and Bill Gates that are willing to pay more in taxes?


Let them. Warren Buffet and Bill Gates are perfectly free to donate as much money to the government as they see fit. I certainly have no interest in stopping them.

If these big corporations had any loyalty to the country that made them wealthy, they wouldn't be trying to use every loophole in the tax code to get out of paying taxes. It's just greed at it's finest.


I don't understand how wanting to keep your own money is immoral and greedy, yet seizing and spending other people's is selfless and awesome. I am not a billionaire, but I still do my best to avoid being mugged. It's perfectly rational.

Edited by Fathoms, 13 December 2012 - 06:17 PM.

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wordings...

#18 sixwings

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Posted 13 December 2012 - 06:22 PM

Tax avoidance is lawful.

Tax evasion is not.

As long as individuals do not evade taxes and take advantage of tax strategies permitted by law then there should be no issue. It is up to the legislature to make changes if it wishes to make such practises unlawful.


And here lies an issue.

The income tax act is extremely complicated and I doubt there are more than 5 people in the legislature could find a CCA rate in the income tax act if it slapped them in the face. So they get external help from tax experts at big 4 firms and top tax law firms whose biggest clients, that they make millions off, are the corporations who are paying them to figure out how to get them out of paying taxes. A small conflict of interest.

Tax law/tax anything, is extremely lucrative for those who desire it.

Edited by sixwings, 13 December 2012 - 06:23 PM.

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#19 Jai604

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Posted 13 December 2012 - 06:28 PM

Can't really blame Google.

As others have said, it's the laws that need to change.
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#20 Red Light Racicot

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Posted 13 December 2012 - 06:41 PM

He added: “What makes Google’s activities so reprehensible is its hypocritical assertion of its corporate motto, 'Don’t Be Evil'


Thats the main bone you have to pick with them?
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#21 Aleksandr Pistoletov

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Posted 13 December 2012 - 08:19 PM

Google is doing what a company does.. reduce costs. That indeed is capitalism. No problem there, and no reason to chastise Google.

The problem here is government and these "incentives". There has been far too much collusion between private enterprise and government in the form of "incentives", subsidies, stimulus, or bailouts, the kind of stuff that makes me severely dislike Keynesian economics due to the collusion between government and business that simply shouldn't exist, as it opens the doors to the type of corporatocracy the US has turned into.. case in point.

Edited by zaibatsu, 13 December 2012 - 08:20 PM.

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#22 surtur

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Posted 13 December 2012 - 08:35 PM

Google is doing what any smart large corp would do
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#23 Wetcoaster

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Posted 13 December 2012 - 08:45 PM

Google is doing what any smart large corp would do

Actually doing what any smart taxpayer would do - personal or corporate.

You are entitled to order your affairs to pay the least tax possible as long as it is not illegal.
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#24 DeNiro

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Posted 14 December 2012 - 03:10 AM

I don't understand how wanting to keep your own money is immoral and greedy, yet seizing and spending other people's is selfless and awesome. I am not a billionaire, but I still do my best to avoid being mugged. It's perfectly rational.


Well you don't know what making money of the backs of others means then.

Too many big corporations act as if they owe nothing to consumers. When in fact they owe everything to them.

I guess the age of corporate slavery is coming along nicely though.
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#25 KoreanHockeyFan

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Posted 14 December 2012 - 03:14 AM

Google is doing what a company does.. reduce costs. That indeed is capitalism. No problem there, and no reason to chastise Google.

The problem here is government and these "incentives". There has been far too much collusion between private enterprise and government in the form of "incentives", subsidies, stimulus, or bailouts, the kind of stuff that makes me severely dislike Keynesian economics due to the collusion between government and business that simply shouldn't exist, as it opens the doors to the type of corporatocracy the US has turned into.. case in point.


I usually don't agree with the things you say, but in this case.


Amen.
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#26 Lancaster

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Posted 14 December 2012 - 05:09 AM

Well you don't know what making money of the backs of others means then.

Too many big corporations act as if they owe nothing to consumers. When in fact they owe everything to them.

I guess the age of corporate slavery is coming along nicely though.


The thing is that public corporations are owned by many many people, groups, pension plans, etc.
Start taxing businesses more and shareholder wealth decreases.... your RRSP return will be lower, your pension plans has lesser value, etc. In the end, you'll be asking for government to help you out, thus any gain in tax revenues will be gone and probably be a deficit as the bureaucracy will siphon a bit of it too.

Corporations "making money on the backs of others".... I don't know how people even come up with this. Unless companies are outright owning slaves and/or paying employees less than minimum and with dangerous working conditions, that quote is totally BS.
Businesses aren't charities and workers are paid what the market deemed they are worth. You don't like working in McD, then don't work there. You don't like how Nike is paying Indonesian kids 10 cents an hour to sew soccer balls, don't buy those stuff.

In this world world there are lots of new opportunities each and everyday where you have all the choices, and yet people are just too lazy and apathetic to do anything serious about it. Instead they complain and rely on "Big Brother" to solve all problems, even though it's the people that has all the power.
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#27 RUPERTKBD

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Posted 14 December 2012 - 06:32 AM

lol it always has to be some elementary left v right thing, time to realize both parties are ridiculously corrupt.

It's not really a left vs. right thing in my mind. It's more a case of two political parties that are so polarized, there is zero co-operation between the two.

It's my opinion that it doesn't matter what legislation is introduced into the house, or whether it's good for the American people or not, most, if not all Republicans will vote against it based solely on the fact that it was introduced by a Democrat.
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#28 ronthecivil

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Posted 14 December 2012 - 09:55 AM

That was my thought as well. Unfortunately, with the Republicans controlling the House, I don't see any real changes on the horizon...


Actually.......

It's entirely possible that right before or slightly after (depending on what is palatable politically) when the grand bargain comes (and it must whether anyone in Washington wants it to or not) many loopholes could be eliminated.

In fact it's the republicans wanting to eliminate loopholes as a way to raise revenue as it gives them a out since it ups revenues without upping rates.

Democrats are quick to say it's not enough as loopholes were greatly eliminated in the 80s as part of a long gone grand bargain with Reagon but over the decades new ones creeped in. Dems know this so they want some increased rates along with the loophole closing.

What I suspect will probably happen is the fiscal cliff will be passed and then the Dems and Republicans can agree to a system where tax increases neither really wanted are cut dramatically combined with a large cutting of loopholes. If you don't think this discusssion is serious there's people discussing rationally the idea of eliminating the mortgage interest deduction which has to be the most politically senstive loophole to close ever (though less so in a more renter society).

So ya, there's a hope.

/end reality

/resume bitchfest over those nasty corporations.
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#29 ronthecivil

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Posted 14 December 2012 - 09:58 AM

And here lies an issue.

The income tax act is extremely complicated and I doubt there are more than 5 people in the legislature could find a CCA rate in the income tax act if it slapped them in the face. So they get external help from tax experts at big 4 firms and top tax law firms whose biggest clients, that they make millions off, are the corporations who are paying them to figure out how to get them out of paying taxes. A small conflict of interest.

Tax law/tax anything, is extremely lucrative for those who desire it.


There's a wealth of resources availabe to learn stratagies that work for just about everyone.

The fact that most people don't even know what a TFSA or RRSP is (hint: it's not a GIC or mutual fund) even though many might actually posess them shows that it's primarily apathy guiding the ignorance.
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#30 sixwings

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Posted 14 December 2012 - 06:43 PM

There's a wealth of resources availabe to learn stratagies that work for just about everyone.

The fact that most people don't even know what a TFSA or RRSP is (hint: it's not a GIC or mutual fund) even though many might actually posess them shows that it's primarily apathy guiding the ignorance.


There's a wealth of resources when it comes to small personal tax things and basic corporate tax things. Not complicated corporate tax issues that are extremely vague/complicated in the ITA.

Edited by sixwings, 14 December 2012 - 06:43 PM.

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