The Google chairman, Eric Schmidt, has told political leaders to sort out a rational and predictable international tax system, as he faced a wave of criticism over the firm’s failure to pay more tax.
Ed Miliband attempted to deliver his rebuke direct to Schmidt when invited to speak at the Google Big Tent conference, although the US executive missed the Labour leader’s address on Wednesday, saying he had to attend a meeting in London.
Nick Clegg disclosed at a press conference he had also criticised Google at a Downing Street meeting earlier in the week at which Schmidt was present. David Cameron’s aides, after earlier denying the prime minister rounded on Schmidt at that meeting, later briefed that Google had been implicitly rebuked in the context of the prime minister’s general call for greater tax transparency as part of his agenda for the G8 summit next month.
Speaking at the annual Big Tent event after Miliband had left, Schmidt said one of his key concerns about changes to the tax structure was that Google might be “doubly or quadruply taxed”.
Asked by Labour MP Stella Creasy how he would reform the tax system, he suggested: “Have a rational system that’s predictable and doesn’t change very much.
“Virtually all the American companies have tax structures like this, and UK companies operating in the US do too. But if we pay more taxes in one area, then we pay less in another.