Controversy Grows Over Google's Payment of UK Taxes

A poll has revealed that despite Google's claims that its tax exposure in this country should not be major because rather than its UK staff selling advertising they merely provide sales or marketing support, Britain's digital and media buying community tell a different story.

Yesterday, The Drum polled this industry and received some telling feedback which refutes Google's claims that they do not have a UK sales operation - nearly 80% of respondents said they dealt with London when buying Google advertising, while approximately 14% use their Dublin office.

Furthermore, when asked what they considered was the primary role of Google's London advertising team, 80% of respondents said it was sales and just 17% said it was support.

When questioned what they considered they were achieving when dealing with Google's London team, 76% said they considered they were buying from them and 17% believed they were receiving general advice in order to buy through Dublin.

Finally, when asked whether they believed Google should pay more tax in the UK, 83% agreed they should, 3% disagreed and 14% were undecided.

Controversy has grown over the fact that between 2006 and 2011, Google has paid just £10m on its UK revenues of £11.5bn. An investigation by Reuters found that many statements on Google's own website plus social media profiles of its London staff were inconsistent with its tax position regarding its UK sales activity.

Meanwhile, if HMRC were to deem that Google's UK based employees do in fact sell to UK clients, the company would be liable to pay higher bills since it might then be considered to have tax residency in Britain.

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