Google’s Eric Schmidt: change British law and we’d pay more tax

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Executive chairman defends company’s ‘fiduciary responsibility’ in face of criticism and says ‘what we are doing is legal’

Eric Schmidt Google

Eric Schmidt, Google’s executive chairman, has continued to defend the company’s tax affairs, insisting it would comply with British law if it was changed and claiming to be perplexed by the debate.

In a phrase less snappy than the more celebrated “don’t be evil”, Schmidt said Google had “a fiduciary responsibility to our shareholders” that prevented the internet company from paying more tax abroad. However, he said: “It’s not a debate. You pay the taxes.”

Google has come in for escalating public criticism, including unusually frank words from senior politicians, since the House of Commons public accounts committee took it to task this month over figures that revealed payments of £3.4m in tax on £3.2bn of sales to customers in Britain last year, with sales technically accounted for under the low-tax regime…

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