Apparently, absolutely nothing according to Google’s Chairman Eric Schmidt –himself worth around £4.6billion.
Unlike others, not only is he and his company unapologetic about the lucrative structure that saves them billions from their ‘tax’ shelter in Bermuda; he claims to suffer no ‘confusion’ about what capitalism is and the many government sanctioned incentives that allow for the legitimate accumulation of corporate and personal wealth.
Indeed the search engine mammoth with sales of £2.6bllion last year saved in excess of £200million on its UK tax bill last year; paying the less than princely sum of £6million.
For want of a breach of UK tax laws, the influential Public Accounts Committee could only describe the group’s perfectly legal tax saving methods as ‘immoral’.
More concerned about a possible consumer boycott than being labelled as ‘immoral’, Starbucks – another corporate giant seemly well acquainted with the workings of capitalism – recently agreed to ‘subsidise’ the Exchequer.
The coffee chain will voluntarily increase its tax bill by £20million over the next two years; even if it does not make a profit.
Is this the going rate for the ‘moral’ moniker and do individuals get a discount?
So far however, Google is uninterested in purchasing any markers of corporate morality.
In fact, barring the threatened introduction of a UK General Anti-Abuse rule to clamp down on legal but morally repugnant tax avoidance; Schmidt seems quite happy to continue to pay the bare minimum in taxes.
That said however, this is the season of giving.
Like Starbucks perhaps Google will yet find it in its ‘heart’ to proffer a charitable increase in taxes paid; so its 53,446 employees can in unison cry ’nice’ when Santa asks his favourite question.