It is good to see that Google are once again in the news over their tax affairs.
Eric Schmidt has immorally declared that Google “comply with the law” and “should the law change, we’ll comply with that as well”. Well, that is completely immoral. Google knows that by complying with the law, they are immorally paying the correct amount of tax.
However, as a tax expert I intuitively know that it is actually the wrong amount of tax.
Yes, Google are obeying the law. Yes, the law is acting as intended by Parliament and EU with respect to Google’s operations.
What is wrong is that Google are not intending to do what the law intends them to intend. They are immorally intending to pay less tax than the maximum that they could conceivably contrive to under the law. The intention of Parliament is that businesses of all sizes should see the value in the taxes they pay and seek to maximise them.
Google are clearly not intending this.
At the least, this means that The State has been deprived of sufficient fees for all MPs to challenge the reimbursement of personal expenses several times this year. Then we would know that MPs attending union events were not out of pocket for spending their time being lobbied.
What Google are doing is morally repugnant and puts The State in an awkward position. If people are not going to intend what Parliament intends them to intend, Parliament will have to take action.
It is for this reason that I have drawn up the Limitation of Free Will Bill. This legislation will prevent individuals intending anything other than intentions permitted by Parliament.
With regards to tax, this will allow HMRC to helpfully maximise the tax liabilities of those who do not have the knowledge or expertise to do so as intended and required by the law. And, of course, if an illegal intention is discovered in the course of the investigation then the rectification can be escalated to a criminal prosecution.
The problem is simply solved, as you can see, but we need a State of Courage to do so.