Magazine article Management Today

Editor's Letter: Taxing Questions

Magazine article Management Today

Editor's Letter: Taxing Questions

Article excerpt

When it comes to considering evil and all its works, I'm one of those people willing to give Google the benefit of the doubt.

(I quite like the fact that there's something purer in its scientific intent than is the case with Facebook or Amazon.) Its corporate tax arrangements make us all cross but Google is doing little that is different from other 'stateless' businesses of its scale, which have made the most of globalisation to turn tax planning into a lawyer-led fine art of side-stepping and offshore obfuscation.

The chances of an international agreement to level the tax playing field are now distant with the advent of Trump. He threatens US businesses who stray abroad - 'all you have to do is stay!' - but has no interest in harmonisation, just zero sum game competitive advantage for the US. Sticking it to the other guy.

Trump doesn't give a fig about Indonesia, the latest government to have a pop at Google/Alphabet, which is demanding dollars 400m in back tax just for 2015. And no exchequer has yet pinned anything criminal on the company. As Matt Brittin, the company's EMEA president, points out, his organisation 'keeps to the speed limit' but isn't the one to decide that it should be 70mph in the first place. Neither will it be the first one voluntarily to drop into the slow lane and see its profits suffer.

By contrast plenty of evil was done in Northern Ireland during The Troubles - 3,500 people lost their lives and there has been little in the way of Truth and Reconciliation since the Good Friday Agreement of 1999. …

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