In case you haven’t noticed by now, the global economy isn’t exactly doing too well. Countries are struggling to pay off their debts, which means they’re being really anal about making sure everyone is paying their taxes. Large companies, by the very nature of the fact that they’re massive, make a ton of money. Do they store that money where the bulk of their employees live? Nope. They often use what’s referred to as “tax shelters”. In other words, countries where taxes are so low they might as well not even exist.
Bermuda is just such a shelter, and according to Bloomberg, Google moved $9.8 billion there in 2011 to avoid paying $2 billion worth of taxes. They continue by saying $9.8 billion was roughly “80 percent of Google’s total pretax profit in 2011.”
Who’s most angry about all this? Europe. Algirdas Semeta, the European Commission’s Commissioner for Taxation told members of the press that the EU is losing about 1 trillion Euros a year because of the kind of stuff that companies like Google routinely do.
Which brings up a good question: Can the government stop companies from avoiding their taxes? Technically what Google did is perfectly legal. The European Commission wants to create some new rules to prevent these sorts of things from happening, but you know how lawyers work, they’ll just figure out some other way to hide their client’s money.
Now we’re not exactly economists, so we’re not going to pretend like we have an answer to all this, but why don’t countries levy a financial transaction tax? If Google wants to move close to $10 billion to Bermuda, then let them, but tax that wire transfer up to the hilt as to make it seem like an undesirable course of action to take.
And in case you’re wondering, we’re not singling Google out. Starbucks is downright criminal.