Google’s Eric Schmidt appears to be continuing his media tour in New York this week. Yesterday, we posted a video of Schmidt sitting down one-on-one with The Economist’s Daniel Franklin, but today several U.K. publications are reporting on comments made by the Google Chairman at another one of his media stops last night. According to reports from both Daily Mail and The Independent, Schmidt defended the company’s controversial tax avoidance schemes by stating he is “‘proudly capitalistic”:
‘We pay lots of taxes; we pay them in the legally prescribed ways… ‘I am very proud of the structure that we set up. We did it based on the incentives that the governments offered us to operate…. ‘It’s called capitalism….‘We are proudly capitalistic. I’m not confused about this.’
The U.K.’s chairman of the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee Margaret Hodge said Schmidt and Google should be ashamed:
For Eric Schmidt to say that he is ‘proud’ of his company’s approach to paying tax is arrogant, out of touch and an insult to his customers here in the UK,” she said.
“Ordinary people who pay their taxes unquestioningly are sick and tired of seeing hugely profitable global companies like Google use every trick in the book to get out of contributing their fair share… Google should recognise its obligations to countries like the UK from which it derives such huge benefits, and pay proper corporation tax on the profits it makes from economic activity here. It should be ashamed, not proud, to do anything less. ”
“There are lots of benefits to [being in Britain],” he said… “It’s very good for us, but to go back to shareholders and say, ‘We looked at 200 countries but felt sorry for those British people so we want to [pay them more]‘, there is probably some law against doing that.”