Google’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt has been pouring oil on troubled waters as Google seeks to navigate the issue of tech companies skimping on taxes. The firm drew the ire of Ed Milliband, Labour Party leader, who called for the firm to “do the right thing” in a speech at Google’s very own Big Tent event.
Speaking a few hours after Milliband wagged his finger at the search engine giant, aiming his message directly at its chairman, Schmidt told a second Labour M.P., Stella Creasey, what he thought needed to be done to address the problem: “Have a rational system that’s predictable and doesn’t change very much,” he said.
But, he added, tech companies shouldn’t be the ones to determine tax policy. “Google feels very, very strongly that tax information, tax policy should be done openly. I don’t think companies should decide tax policy, governments should … we’re in a very long-standing tax regime … we need to have a conversation about this, we’re not trying to do the wrong thing, we’re trying to do the right thing.”
Like many technology firms, Google funnels its money through Ireland and the Netherlands. Last week, its head of sales in northern Europe had to justify to British lawmakers its methods of reporting tax income, without much success.
Despite the tension, Schmidt emphasised that a change in taxation rules wouldn’t be cause for a Google-Britain split. “We love you guys too much,” he said. “We will continue investing in the UK no matter what.”