Google CEO on tax: “We are happy to pay a higher amount”

Image: googleblog.blogspot.co.uk

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Google’s (NASDAQ: GOOG) chief executive called for the tax system to be reformed.

Sundar Pichai told an audience that companies were not paying their fair share in tax and Google was more than happy to pay more.

“As a company we paid, over the last five years, close to 20 percent in tax. We are happy to pay a higher amount, whatever the world agrees on as the right framework,” he said.

“It’s not an issue about the amount of tax we pay, as much as how you divide it among various countries.”

Tech giants such as Google and Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) have come under fire recently for routing revenues through countries with low corporation tax rates such as Ireland and therefore avoiding large sums.

A report released last year suggested that European countries had lost out on €5.4 billion in tax revenues from Google and Facebook between the years 2013 and 2015. 

“Facebook’s taxes as a share of their revenues recorded outside the EU is between 28 percent and 34 percent, whereas in the EU this is a remarkably low ratio of 0.03 percent to 0.10 percent,” the report said.

Pichai said that Google was open to suggestions but it was up to policymakers to take the initiative.

“We encourage the OECD to actually solve these issues, which would make it much easier for companies to operate.”

The interview also turned to online extremism and hate speech. The Google chief said he did not think that internet giants should become de facto arbiters.

Similarly, Elliot Schrage, Facebook Inc.’s vice president of public policy said last week that these new laws “places the responsibility for us to be judge and jury and enforcer, determining what is legally required or not, on the private sector, on us as a platform,” he said. “And I think that’s a bad idea.”