Google pays $260m in back taxes to UK - How much do they owe Australia?

23rd January 2016

Independent Senator for South Australia, Nick Xenophon, says that news out of the UK today that Google has agreed to pay more than $260 million in back taxes to the UK Government “begs the question – how much does Google owe the Australian Government if it hasn’t been paying its fair share of taxes here?”

Last year the Federal Parliament passed new laws on multinational tax avoidance which included provisions based on an amendment successfully moved by Senator Xenophon that will require global companies with Australian operations to provide much more detail of their financial operations here including transfer pricing involving lower taxing overseas jurisdictions.

“I just hope the Australian Tax Office search for any missing Google tax millions is as powerful as the Google search engine,” Nick said.

Senator Xenophon also noted the criticism in the UK that the $260m deal with the British Government fell far short of a reasonable amount of tax with Richard Murphy, director of campaign group Tax Research saying: “It looks as though Google has got a great deal, it must be laughing all the way to its Bermudan bank”.

“Any deals done by the ATO here with multinationals like Google ought to involve public disclosure of the amount claimed, the final amount negotiated, and how that would compare with a comparable Australian company that did not have the benefit of any offshoring arrangements,” Nick said.

Senator Xenophon said he would be “gobsmacked” if there wasn’t a similar claim against Google in Australia given the UK settlement, and France lodging a claim for more than $1.5 million in back taxes against Google.

“When other countries are pursuing Google aggressively for not paying their fair share of tax, we need to be too,” Nick said. “Before the government talks about increasing the GST or cutting benefits from single parents, it needs to have done everything possible to get a fair share of tax from companies like Google.”

Following release of tax transparency information last year, it was revealed Google paid $9.2m in tax – 2.6 per cent of its $357m income in 2013-14.