In May 2020, Ethical Consumer viewed the entry for Alphabet Inc on the website, which was published in the USA by the Centre for Responsive Politics. This stated that in 2020 so far the company and its employees had made $$5,801,471 in political donations. $86.11% of this went to democrats. It also spent $12,660,000 on lobbying in 2019.

83 out of 103 Alphabet Inc lobbyists in 2019 had previously held government jobs.


Open Secrets generic ref 2019 (2 January 2019)

In May 2020 Ethical Consumer viewed an article on the Guardian website titled "Revealed: Google made large contributions to climate change deniers" and dated 11 October 2019. It stated:

"Google has made “substantial” contributions to some of the most notorious climate deniers in Washington despite its insistence that it supports political action on the climate crisis. Among hundreds of groups the company has listed on its website as beneficiaries of its political giving are more than a dozen organisations that have campaigned against climate legislation, questioned the need for action, or actively sought to roll back Obama-era environmental protections.The list includes the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), a conservative policy group"

As a result, the company lost a whole mark in the Political Activities category.


Revealed: Google made large contributions to climate change deniers (11 October 2019)

A report by Transparency International (TI) from 24 June 2015 stated that the overwhelming majority of lobby meetings held by European Commissioners and their closest advisers were with representatives of corporate interests.

Google was one of the most active lobbyists at this level, with 29 meetings, and it was also one of the biggest spenders in Brussels, declaring an EU lobby budget of around 3.5 million euros per year. The company had a total of 9 registered lobbyists.

TI added, however, that this information "is just part of the picture", as lobbying information was voluntarily filed, and according to TI, "much of the information... is inaccurate, incomplete or outright meaningless". The European Commission's new transparency provisions covered only the highest ranking top 1% of EU officials and 20% of the registered lobby organisations.


Lobby meetings with EU policy-makers dominated by corporate interests (24 June 2015)

The Silicon Six and their $100 billion global tax gap, is a report published by the Fair Tax Mark which examined the tax conduct of Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google and Microsoft over the last decade.
It concludes that the corporation tax paid by the Silicon Six is much lower than is commonly understood. Over the period 2010 to 2019:
* the gap between the expected headline rates of tax and the cash taxes actually paid was $155.3bn
* the gap between the current tax provisions (the amount the companies were expected to pay) and the taxes actually paid was $100.2bn
The report suggests that the bulk of the shortfall almost certainly arose outside the United States. Profits continue to be shifted to tax havens, especially Bermuda, Ireland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.
Amazon has paid just $3.4bn in income taxes this decade, whilst Apple has paid $93.8bn and Microsoft has paid $46.9bn. This is a staggering variance, especially as Amazon’s revenue over this period exceeded that of Microsoft’s by almost $80bn.
Google came third out of six.
In June 2019, Google sought to put the record straight on their tax conduct and asserted that: “Google’s overall global tax rate has been over 23% for the past 10 years, in line with the 23.7% average statutory rate across the member countries of the OECD.” In fact, the cash tax paid as a percentage of profit was just 15.8%.
The trend of low current tax provision in connection with foreign profits continues in 2018, with just $1.25bn booked on $19.1bn of foreign profit, giving a booked current tax rate of just 6.5% - this is less than the company’s already low average for the decade, which is 7.1%.

TaxWatch have estimated that Google has avoided £1.3bn of taxes in the UK over the years 2012-2017


The Silicon Six and their $100 billion global tax gap (December 2019)

A report published by Citizens for Tax Justice on 6 October 2015 criticized US tax policy on large multinational corporations. Many multinational corporations used accounting tricks to pretend that a substantial portion of their profits were generated in offshore tax havens, countries with minimal or no taxes where a company’s presence could be as little as a mailbox.

The study examined the use of tax havens by Fortune 500 companies in 2014. It revealed that tax haven use was ubiquitous among America’s largest companies and that a narrow set of companies benefited disproportionately.

Amongst these companies Google was found to maintain two subsidiaries in a tax haven: Ireland. The amount held offshore was $47.4 billion. Neither the overall rate of the tax paid on this overseas cash, nor any estimate of the US tax avoided, were disclosed.

The report noted that "Google reported operating 25 subsidiaries in tax havens in 2009, but since 2010 it had only disclosed two, both in Ireland. During that period, it increased the amount of profits it had booked offshore from $7.7 billion to $47.4 billion. As noted above, an academic analysis found that as of 2012, the 23 no-longer-disclosed tax haven subsidiaries were still operating. Google uses accounting techniques nick-named the “double Irish” and the “Dutch sandwich,” according to a Bloomberg investigation. Using two Irish subsidiaries, one of which is headquartered in Bermuda, Google shifts profits through Ireland and the Netherlands to Bermuda, shrinking its tax bill by approximately $2 billion a year."


Offshore Shell Games 2015 (5 October 2015)

In 2015 the BBC reported that an agreement that would see US tech firm Google pay £130m in UK back taxes was labelled as "derisory" and a "sweetheart deal" by critics.

The payment covered money owed since 2005 and followed a six-year inquiry by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs.

Richard Murphy, from the Fair Tax Mark, estimated Google should be paying £200m every year in Corporation Tax.

He said the figure was based on the firm's declared profit margins and sales in Britain in 2014 of £4.5bn.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Labour's Mr McDonnell called for greater transparency, saying it looked like a "sweetheart deal".
"HMRC seems to have settled for a relatively small amount in comparison with the overall profits that are made by the company in this country. And some of the independent analysts have argued that it should be at least 10 times this amount," he said.
"It looks to me from all the independent analysis that this is relatively trivial in comparison with what should have been paid. In fact one analysis has put the rate down to about 3%, which I think is derisory," he added.

Google paid £20.4m in UK taxes in 2013. The value of its British sales that year was £3.8bn. Google makes most of its UK profits through online advertising.
Google knows that the Diverted Profits Tax (known as the "Google Tax") which came into force last year will mean it will have to pay more to HMRC.
On top of that, the OECD has come up with much stricter international rules for 'Base Erosion and Profit Shifting' or aggressive tax avoidance.
Taxes on profits should soon be paid where the economic activity takes place rather than where the company is domiciled or registered.
Google currently routes its UK sales through Ireland which it will no longer be able to do.
Matt Brittin, head of Google Europe, told the BBC: "Today we announced that we are going to be paying more tax in the UK.
"The rules are changing internationally and the UK government is taking the lead in applying those rules so we'll be changing what we are doing here. We want to ensure that we pay the right amount of tax."

Reference: (25 January 2016)

In May 2020 Ethical Consumer viewed Alphabet's family tree on the corporate information website According to Hoovers the company had holding companies based in Bermuda and Ireland- jursidications which were on Ethical Consumer's tax haven list at the time of writing. The company also had subsidiaries in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore, although these were not considered at high risk of being used for tax avoidance purposes.

According to Google's parent Alphabet's 10K form which was downloaded from the SEC, the company was registered in Delaware. Delaware was at the time of writing considered by Ethical Consumer to be a tax haven jurisidiction. The form contained no country-by-country reporting.

Google had also been heavily criticised by several countries around the world for its tax avoidance methods. This included France who in March 2016 raided its offices following an investigation into its tax affairs.

As a result Google received Ethical Consumer's worst rating for likely use of tax avoidance strategies.


Generic Hoovers ref (2020)