Silicon Valley Tries to Stop Tax Loopholes From Being Closed


Tue, Jan 21st, 2014 10:00 by capnasty NEWS

According to The Guardian, Silicon Valley has "launched a last-ditch attempt" to halt G20 reforms that would put an end to "international [tax] loopholes that are exploited by the likes of Google, Amazon and Apple to pay less tax in the UK and elsewhere."

The [Digital Economy Group] (DEG)'s hostility to the G20 reform agenda is in contrast to the more conciliatory tone previously adopted by Google. Last year executive chairman Eric Schmidt insisted he "understands why Google is at the centre of [the] debate" following criticisms of the search group's controversial tax structuring in the UK. Writing in the Observer he conceded "international tax law could almost certainly benefit from reform". He said he hoped that politicians "seize the initiative and make meaningful tax reform". The DEG submission was signed by three top US tax lawyers at Baker & McKenzie acting on DEG's behalf, one of whom had been poached in 2011 from the OECD, where she had been played a senior role in tax policies affecting global online and hi-tech groups. The letter describes the DEG as "an informal coalition of leading US and non-US software, information/content, social networking, and e-commerce companies".

Baker & McKenzie did not respond to a request for further information on DEG membership. When asked if they were members of the lobby group, Amazon and Apple were either unavailable or declined to comment. One source with knowledge of the DEG said: "It is largely if not exclusively made up of tech companies, mainly from Silicon Valley ... Most of the big guys are there."

The G20 tax reform project was announced last summer, billed as the "once in a century" opportunity to overhaul the global tax system. While the work has the backing of all G20 nations, it has been most enthusiastically championed by France, with strong backing from Britain and Germany. America's support has been conspicuously lukewarm.



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