The era of big multinational corporations like Google, Amazon and Starbucks skirting around their tax liabilities is coming to a close. In the United Kingdom, it is, anyways. A parliamentary committee said that the companies were guilty of "immoral tax avoidance" in a report due to be released on Monday. The British lawmakers urged the government to "get a grip" on these companies that route revenue through offshore offices -- Google sends the money through subsidiaries in Ireland and Bermuda, for instance -- and make them start paying taxes based on the money they make in the country.
The committee spoke with representatives from Google, Amazon and Starbucks a few weeks ago about their tax habits and were evidently very unimpressed. "Global companies with huge operations in the UK, generating significant amounts of income, are getting away with paying little or no corporation tax here," said chair of the committee Margaret Hodge, a member of Parliament. "This is outrageous and an insult to British businesses and individuals who pay their fair share." Hodge added that the companies' representatives were "unconvincing and, in some cases, evasive" when asked to explain themselves to Parliament last month.
Britain is hardly alone in feeling this way, although they are the first to throw around big words like "immoral." These companies and Google, specifically, are being targeted in tax dodging investigations or legislation in France, Germany and Italy. A couple of weeks ago, France's Junior Minister of Budget said that courts would come down hard on Google for an estimated $2.17 billion in unpaid taxes. France also wants $327 million in unpaid taxes from Amazon. In Italy, about $313 million in unpaid taxes are at the center of a new police investigation into how exactly Google routes its earnings, profits and royalties through its European headquarters in Ireland, where corporate tax is notoriously low. Earlier this year, Germany called on the all of the G-20 nations to crack down on these tax avoidance schemes. Even Australia is going after these companies, now.
Can you guess one country that's not going after Google, Amazon and Starbucks? We'll give you a clue. It starts with "U" and ends with "nited States of America."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.