GEORGE OSBORNE must disclose every detail of the Google tax settlement, shadow chancellor John McDonnell demanded yesterday as more Tories joined the revolt against the “sweetheart deal.”
London Mayor Boris Johnson called for “clarity” on where Google’s profits are made and senior Tory backbencher David Davis said the amount of back tax the firm has agreed to pay was a “very small number.”
And at a parliamentary press briefing yesterday, a Downing Street spokesman repeatedly refused to echo Mr Osborne’s comment that the belated payment was a “major success.”
He would not even use the term “satisfied.”
Former Tory leadership contender Mr Davis said big companies should not be covered by the confidentiality rules that apply to individuals, arguing that Google’s deal should be put “entirely in the open.
“Otherwise people are always going to be saying ‘this is too small a number’,” he told Sky News. “It is a very small number.”
Mr McDonnell wrote to his Tory counterpart demanding details of the settlement and questioning whether he or his deputies had been involved in the arrangement. The oversight of such deals rests with HM Revenue and Customs.
The shadow chancellor also asked when Mr Osborne had become aware of the deal.
And he chided: “When times are tough it is more important than ever that everyone pays — and is seen to pay — their fair share.
“I know that many are concerned about the tax treatment of large companies and it is important for public trust that HMRC is fair and transparent in its dealings with such companies.”
But HMRC business tax director-general Jim Harra told the BBC: “We only accept the full amount of tax, interest and penalties that is due … if we can’t reach an agreement on that amount, we will go to tribunal.”
The Times reported that HMRC never challenged Google’s assertion that it did not have a “permanent establishment” in Britain and that an inquiry in France is seeking a settlement three times the size of the sum paid out here.
Mr Harra added: “We will have to wait and see what the outcome of any inquiry in France is. There has certainly been no disclosure that there has been any outcome.”