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Friday, 16 May 2014

Should Google commit to Paying its “Fair Share”?


Rolling nicely off my last post about why Google’s evil (and why that’s not really a big deal), there’s a bunch of do-gooder shareholders looking to instill some sense of social conscience and responsibility in the tech giant. They’re going to fail miserably.
The proposal has been put forward by the Domini Social Equity Fund, which includes NEI Investments, the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, Robert Burnett and Investor Voice. It recommends that Google adopt a stringent set of principles that "address the impact of its tax strategies on society, with particular focus on Google’s employees, customers and suppliers", with annual updates on the success of this scheme at the end of every calendar year.
Unsurprisingly, Google’s board of directors has recommended that shareholders vote against such foolish, money squandering practices. After all, Google is tax compliant and working within the confines of the law. Surely it’s “fair share” is being paid.
Obviously this is some kind of long overdue reaction to the tax-avoiding scandals that plagued Google and other multi-nationals such as Amazon and Starbucks a couple of years ago, but the real question is why bother bringing it up at all?
A business’ responsibility is to create profit to pay its employees, shareholders and expand the business. If Google has been found to have exploited a legal loophole it’s up to the government to close it.
As a statement from Google went on to say:
“We continually consider the impact of our decisions and actions, including our tax positions, on our reputation and our brand… Our board of directors believes that we have structured our operations in a manner consistent with all applicable tax laws and we are thereby satisfying our fiduciary duties to our stockholders as well as our legal obligations in each of the countries in which we operate and conduct business."
In other words, Google clearly identifies that it’s working within the confines of the law, and based on how well it weathered the last media outburst regarding its tax contributions you can hardly blame them the board members from shirking away from any needless philanthropy.