Controversial tech giant Google paid just £67 million in UK corporation tax last year while it enjoyed revenues of £1.41 billion–and British employees took home an average of £226,600 each in pay and bonuses.
The revelations have triggered calls for the UK’s tax system to be simplified in order to reduce their exploitation.
They come as the Treasury considers a new digital levy designed to boost the amount that Silicon Valley companies such as Google pay into its coffers.
Newly published accounts from Google’s UK arm show that the search company’s revenues climbed £1.41 billion in the year to June 2018, thanks to a £142 million year-on-year increase in marketing and research fees.
The firm’s latest tax bill was £66.8 million – paid on pre-tax profit of £246 million.
If lucrative advertising sales that are booked overseas had been factored in too, the revenue and tax tallies would have been much higher.
The research company eMarketer estimates that in reality Google made £5.3 billion in ad revenue from the UK last year.
Meanwhile, Google UK’s wage bill totalled £388 million, while share payouts hit £342 million as Google’s stock rose over the period.
Once pensions are added in, payments to its 3,658 employees came to £829 million – or £226,600 each.
Yesterday, the TaxPayers’ Alliance said the UK’s tax system was too complex – allowing huge corporations to exploit it.
Our tax system is far too complicated, and those that can afford the best accountants will continue to find ways to pay a minimal amount
Its CEO John O’Connell said yesterday: “Anyone who thinks that technology companies aren’t paying enough tax should back the TPA’s calls for tax simplification. Our tax system is far too complicated, and those that can afford the best accountants will continue to find ways to pay a minimal amount.”
He added: “It’s important to strike a good balance between ensuring companies pay their fair share, but also not discouraging growth and innovation.”
A Google spokesman said: “As an international business, we pay the majority of our taxes in our home country, as well as all the taxes due in the UK. We are investing significantly in the UK, including starting work on new offices in Kings Cross for 7,000 staff.”
Global tech firms have been repeatedly slammed for how little tax they pay.
In October, Facebook revealed it paid just £7.4 million in net in tax in the UK on £1.3 billion of British sales.
At the time, Margaret Hodge, a Labour MP and former chairman of the public accounts committee, called Facebook’s paltry bill “absolutely outrageous”.