It's not just Google

Over the last week, Google's transnational profit shielding has come into focus with HMRC agreeing that they can settle up and agreed a sweetheart deal. It's not popular, nor is it probably the most important. Amazon is probably a bigger problem for the real economy.

  1. This story, in reverse date order moves from the announcement of the agreement, the political response on the whole negative, the EU & US responses, (looking at the US asymmetrical banking regulation and enforcement), a question time insurgency and the route to Bermuda and international tax haven regulation. It finishes with a piece by Evgney Morozov, wo argues that the defacto subsidy given to US software giants is killing jobs and wealth in the very jurisdictions that are behaving stupidly leniently.
  2. In this article, Evgeny Morozov raises the question as to whether the growth of the mega platforms is classic dumping, economies of scale or a lack of will to regulate.
  3. To me given that the fulfilments are physical and local, it's not economies of scale. The economic policy consensus is that dumping and price discrimination are not in the public interest on anti-monopoly grounds. Morozov argues that the destruction of jobs and revenue outside the US is being subsidised by the tax shielding measures taken by the US multi-nationals. While there are jobs in advertising and the media, Amazon are massive worldwide players in the distribution industry; they have unfair competitive advantage over local firms, often SMEs that pay their taxes as was argued by Mark Constantine, one f the founders who successfully sued Amazon for unfair & anti-competitive business practices.
  4. Not only do they transfer profit out of the UK, they seek to pay their tax in Bermuda, which is on the EU list of tax havens they are seeking to regulate. However, the Tory Government's subordination the public interest to that of the City continues.
  5. The pressure grows such that, even Sajid Javid, the Business Secretary questions the wisdom and justice,
  6. Ordinary tax payers are rightly unhappy, and get on to Question Time to say so. SME's and consumers don't get personal advisers and negotiators, often have to wait a long time to talk to the tax help line and are often chased for trivial amounts.
  7. The US Government lobby for lenient treatment for their corporate citizens, despite a number of States' authorities seemingly keener to prosecute foreign banks for malfeasance than paying attention to US based ones.
  8. Many argue that the UK Government are deliberately trying to undermine the EU's attempt to negotiate a continental agreement, and the Commission are having none of it.
  9. The House of Commons, Treasury and Finance Committee think not and decides to have a look, this could be tricky.
  10. Gideon thinks it's a good idea,
  11. The Guardian tells the story of how HMRC negotiated an agreement with Google to pay its back taxes, including numbers showing that Google paid £11.6m on 3.4bn of revenue.
  12. I made the picture, from two sources, one being from flickr, images_money, the other is from google's site.