Europe, Middle East and Africa Oil and Gas Correspondent
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May 1, 2013

Special Report: How Google UK clouds its tax liabilities

LONDON (Reuters) – In November 2012, Google’s Vice President for Northern and Central Europe was called to an oak-paneled conference room overlooking the Thames to testify to a parliamentary committee about how firms like his reap billions in revenue in Britain but pay very little corporate income tax.

Matt Brittin, dressed in a fitted blue suit and open-necked white shirt, smiled confidently as he explained that Google Inc. wasn’t liable for taxation on UK sales because these were all handled from its European headquarters in Dublin, Ireland. “Nobody (in the UK) is selling,” Brittin told the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

May 1, 2013

Exclusive: Britain to quiz Google and auditor again on tax

LONDON (Reuters) – Executives from Google Inc. and its auditor Ernst & Young will be called again to a British parliament committee to testify on tax, after a Reuters investigation highlighted inconsistencies in the way Google portrays its activities in Britain, the committee’s chairwoman told Reuters.

Margaret Hodge, head of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), which is tasked with ensuring value in government financial affairs, said she would summon the companies’ representatives to explain previous comments to the committee in light of the report. The investigation found that while Google executive Matt Brittin said Google doesn’t make sales to UK customers from the UK, some of its staff and UK customers think it does.

Apr 25, 2013

MPs criticize accounting firms on tax avoidance

LONDON (Reuters) – MPs criticised the role of accounting firms in helping big companies avoid paying tax and said in a report on Friday that close corporate relationships with government raised concerns about undue influence on tax policy.

Corporate tax avoidance has risen to the top of the political agenda in Britain in the past year following reports which showed some major companies paid little or no tax in the country by shifting profits to tax havens.

Apr 25, 2013

UK lawmakers criticize accounting firms on tax avoidance

LONDON (Reuters) – UK lawmakers criticized the role of accounting firms in helping big companies avoid paying tax and said in a report on Friday that close corporate relationships with government raised concerns about undue influence on tax policy.

Corporate tax avoidance has risen to the top of the political agenda in Britain in the past year following reports which showed some major companies paid little or no tax in the country by shifting profits to tax havens.

Mar 20, 2013

New UK tax rule to bring in less than some expected

LONDON, March 20 (Reuters) – Britain expects to raise some
20 million pounds ($30 million) a year within three years
through a new measure to tackle tax avoidance, according to
budget forecasts on Wednesday which tax experts and campaigners
called surprisingly low.

The General Anti Abuse Rule (GAAR), going through Britain’s
parliament as part of a wider finance bill, is being introduced
by the government under pressure to tackle tax avoidance by
companies which it estimates at 5 billion pounds a year.

Mar 13, 2013

New British tax law won’t stop corporate avoidance – parliamentarians

LONDON (Reuters) – Legislation on tax avoidance going through Britain’s parliament will not address the kinds of corporate tax minimisation that are of the greatest concern to the public, a parliamentary committee said on Wednesday.

The “General Anti-Abuse Rule” (GAAR), part of a wider finance bill, would grant Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs additional powers to counter “abusive” tax avoidance

Mar 11, 2013

Fewer apply for UK tax break for super rich

LONDON, March 11 (Reuters) – The number of British residents
applying for a tax break that can allow them to exclude much of
their income from UK taxation has fallen since the beginning of
the financial crisis, official data show.

Britain has become the location of choice for many of
Europe’s super rich because of a tax break which allows them to
be physically resident in the country but “non-domiciled” for
tax purposes.

Mar 1, 2013

Top hedge fund manager loses 19 million pounds UK tax case

LONDON (Reuters) – A prominent London hedge fund manager has failed in his attempt to shelter 19 million pounds ($29 million) of profits from taxes through the use of an avoidance scheme, the UK tax authority said on Friday, as it steps up a government-backed crackdown on such schemes.

Patrick Degorce, chief investment officer at hedge fund Theleme Partners, availed himself of a scheme marketed by film finance group Goldcrest Pictures Limited, which involved buying and selling movie rights via a British Virgin Islands entity.

Mar 1, 2013

Top hedge fund manager loses $29 mln UK tax case

LONDON, March 1 (Reuters) – A prominent London hedge fund
manager has failed in his attempt to shelter 19 million pounds
($29 million) of profits from taxes through the use of an
avoidance scheme, the UK tax authority said on Friday, as it
steps up a government-backed crackdown on such schemes.

Patrick Degorce, chief investment officer at hedge fund
Theleme Partners, availed himself of a scheme marketed by film
finance group Goldcrest Pictures Limited, which involved buying
and selling movie rights via a British Virgin Islands entity.

Feb 18, 2013

Insight: In Europe’s tax race, it’s the base, not the rate, that counts

LONDON (Reuters) – In late November, members of the American Chamber of Commerce gathered at the Four Seasons hotel in Dublin for a Thanksgiving lunch of roast turkey and pumpkin pie and a declaration of hospitality from Ireland’s finance minister.

“We’re a friendly country for investors and one of the key elements of the friendliness of the package is the 12.5 percent tax rate,” Michael Noonan said. “I want to tell you once more, that’s not negotiable.”

    • About Tom

      "Tom leads our coverage of the oil and gas industry in Europe, the Middle East and Africa and is also author of 'Spills & Spin: The Inside Story of BP'. A former oil broker who turned to journalism 12 years ago, he is regularly interviewed on CNBC and other TV and radio stations on energy matters. Tom has reported from over twenty countries including Iran, Iraq, India, Pakistan, Tanzania, the U.S. and Russia. As Europe, Middle East and Africa Oil & Gas Correspondent, he has chartered the rise in oil prices to record levels, interviewed oil ministers and the CEOs of ..."
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