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We are not under siege on tax, Google claims

21 Feb 2013 THE AGE
BY PETER CAI


THE head of Google Australia has rejected the suggestion that the company is under siege from tax authorities around the world, despite many governments saying they intend to crack down on tax minimisation by multinationals.

In November, Assistant Treasurer David Bradbury took the unprecedented step of criticising by name two US technology companies, Google and Apple.

Google Australia claims it paid tax of $781,000 in 2011 on its estimated revenue of at least $1 billion. But its accounts show the tech giant paid a little more than $74,000 in tax.

"If enormous multinational corporations aren't paying their fair share of tax on economic activity in Australia, then that's not fair game," Mr Bradbury said at the time.

An expert panel set up by Mr Bradbury has recommended changes designed to make public more information about how much tax is paid by multinationals. But on Wednesday the managing director of Google Australia and New Zealand, Nick Leeder, said: "We don't feel particularly under siege. We understand the issue and it is an important issue."

He said the issue could only be resolved through international co-operation and Google looked forward to working with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, which has called for an overhaul of international tax laws.

"We understand there is an issue around the world and it is one that requires co-operation from different countries," Mr Leeder said. "You can't solve this issue one country at a time. I think the OECD is exactly where this issue needs to be dealt with."

In a report published last week blaming "profit shifting" for eroding the tax base, the OECD warned that the practice "constitutes a serious risk to tax revenues, tax sovereignty and tax fairness" around the world.

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