Google's Tax Loophole Scheme Is Legal, But Is It 'Evil'?

By funneling revenue through subsidiaries in foreign countries, Google exploits international corporate tax law to shave more than $1 billion a year off its final tax bill.

The government knows what Google is doing and nobody's accusing the company of breaking the law. But for a company that marches under the banner "Don't Be Evil," this is awfully evil-ish behavior, writes Tim Fernholz of The American Prospect.

This reminds me that a few months ago, I posed a question to readers: Is it hypocritical to call for higher taxes and also try to avoid paying them? I imagined a liberal who'd voted for an administration that promised higher taxes hiring H&R Block the next year to massage the law such that he would pay the fewest taxes possible -- under the law. Most of the commenters said it was intellectually inconsistent to call for higher taxes and also seek shelter under the law.

I suspect these commenters would say that Google is well within its rights to go to any lengths possible (legal) to shrink their tax bill. My question is: Should the same apply to father who wants Americans to pay a higher effective tax rate but also wants to seek options to save as much money for his family as the law allows? If  exploiting tax loopholes is legal and unevil for a company, shouldn't it be legal and unevil for a man or woman, regardless of their position on taxes?

Presented by

Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

Life as an Obama Impersonator

"When you think you're the president, you just act like you are above everybody else."

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

VIdeo

Life as an Obama Impersonator

"When you think you're the president, you just act like you are above everybody else."

Video

Things Not to Say to a Pregnant Woman

You don't have to tell her how big she is. You don't need to touch her belly.

Video

Maine's Underground Street Art

"Graffiti is the farthest thing from anarchy."

Video

The Joy of Running in a Beautiful Place

A love letter to California's Marin Headlands

Video

'I Didn't Even Know What I Was Going Through'

A 17-year-old describes his struggles with depression.

More in Business

Just In