Google is dodging billions in taxes — $3.1 billion in the last three years — through tax schemes with names like the "Double Irish" and "Dutch Sandwich," Bloomberg reports. The search giant routes its foreign revenue through subsidiaries in Ireland, the Netherlands, and Bermuda, leaving it with a "super low" overseas tax rate of 2.4 percent (and an overall effective tax rate of 22.2 percent). Google is "flying a banner of doing no evil, and then they're perpetrating evil under our noses," says accounting expert Abraham Briloff. Is Google's tax dodge really "evil"? (Watch a Bloomberg report about Google's tax method)
Time to change mottos: Google's 2.4 percent overseas tax burden is "a suspiciously low rate, to put it mildly," says David Callahan in The Huffington Post. And though it isn't illegal, it is a "hugely disappointing" sign of serious "hypocrisy in Google's high command." Not only is Google's motto "Don't be evil" and its leaders purportedly committed good corporate citizens, but Google wouldn't even exist without tax dollars.
"Google's tax avoidance: So much for 'Don't Be Evil'"
Google gives more than it withholds: The tax schemes are "'shady' at best," says Patricio Robles in Econsultancy. But "evil? Hardly." In fact, they aren't even unethical. Despite its various strategies, Google has directly or indirectly paid many billions in taxes worldwide. "If there's an evil here," it's that smaller companies can't choose to save their tax dollars for jobs and innovation in the same way Google has.
"Is Google's tax strategy 'evil'?"
Google isn't alone — but they seem to be the worst offender: As Google points out, its tax strategies are "very similar" to those of other global companies, says Ryan Tate at Valleywag. Only "Google, as always, is just better at doing it" — even its "more crafty competitors" like Microsoft and Apple pay higher rates. So kudos to Google's accountants, you're doing great work. "But it's pretty far from 'Don't be evil,'" and Google can't have it both ways.
"Google's $3 billion tax dodge"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Could better U.S.-Cuban relations thwart baseball's human smuggling problem?
- Why torture doesn't work: A definitive guide
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- How academia's liberal bias is killing social science
- Dick Cheney's America is an ugly place
- How to make the ultimate grilled cheese
- How computers will replace your doctor
- The Hobbit: A disappointing set of movies, but a worthy set of prequels
- Hey, bosses: Stop giving bonuses to your employees
Subscribe to the Week