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10 Questions for Google's Tax Dodge

We learned today that Google has the lowest foreign tax rate of the top five U.S. tech companies, an eyebrow-raising 2.4%, and that Google "cut its taxes by $3.1b in the last three years using a technique that moves most of its foreign profits through Ireland and the Netherlands to Bermuda," per an outstanding investigative expose by Jesse Drucker of Bloomberg.

This exceptional tax dodging feat, while reportedly technically legal, nonetheless raises some important questions that no one has yet asked Google.

 

  1. Is tax dodging one of the "things" Google CEO Eric Schmidt meant when he recently said: "the Google policy on a lot of things is to get right up to the creepy line, but not cross it?"
  2. Will Google be open and transparent in answering public questions about Google's tax dodging leadership, given that Google's CEO Eric Schmidt recently said: "If you have something you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place."
  3. How does Google justify to EU officials that its OK for Google to routinely take Europeans' private information physically out of Europe and store it on servers in the U.S. and elsewhere when that is illegal, but Google does not take European profits back to the U.S. when that is perfectly legal?
  4. How is preferring Google's profits to be made and retained overseas for tax dodging purposes, not a form of Google exporting U.S. jobs overseas?
  5. Is Google's tax dodging leadership in part motivated by Google's well-known free-lunch stance that everything Google wants should be free to them -- even Government services?
  6. If tax dodging leadership is part of Google's info-egalitarian mission, will Google organize all of Google's tax dodging information and "make it universally accessible and useful" to everyone equally in harmony with Google's mission?
  7. Are Google's auction algorithms, which are designed to maximize Google's revenue and not award keywords to the highest bidder, also designed to reward foreign clicks over American clicks because that would maximize Google profitability?
  8. Will Google now include its multi-billion dollar tax-dodging impact in its Economic Impact presentation about "how proud" Google is to be an engine of economic growth and job creation?
  9. How does Google's stated philosophy of "you can make money without doing evil," and its code of conduct that urges Googlers to "do the right thing" and to "act honorably," square with the reality that Google has the highest revenue per employee, ($~1.2m) but pays the lowest corporate tax rate?
    • (Didn't George Orwell's Animal Farm satire conclude that "everyone is equal, but some are more equal than others...?")
  10. Finally, should anyone be surprised that the company that:

 

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