Google's Eric Schmidt in Burma

In the fifth installment of our continuing series Talking Schmidt we bring you the most insightful lines from Google Chairman Eric Schmidt.

Schmidt, who is promoting his new book The New Digital Age with his coauthor Jared Cohen, responded to UK politician Ed Miliband’s call for “responsible capitalism” earlier this week.

He reminded Miliband that Google is a country… ahem, company powered by profit and projects like wearable computing and self-driving cars better serve Google than forfeiting more of its profits to various governments.

“Google is a capitalist country … company,” he corrected himself, to laughter from the audience. “It’s easy to say you would like us to have to have less profits and have that somewhere else. We will comply with the letter of the law, but we’re trying to avoid being doubly and triply taxes, which would prevent us investing in some of the wilder things we do.”

Schmidt wrote his own op-ed in The Guardian earlier this week expressing his openness for a debate on international tax reform, something that has plagued Google’s competitor Apple recently, but it’s apparent both Google and Apple are in no mood to give up more of its profits than outlined by the law.

Apple CEO Tim Cook echoed Eric Schmidt’s comments last week in an interview with The Washington Post:

“If you look at it today, to repatriate cash to the U.S., you need to pay 35 percent of that cash. And that is a very high number,” Cook said in an interview Thursday. “We are not proposing that it be zero. I know many of our peers believe that. But I don’t view that. But I think it has to be reasonable.”

Neither company seems opposed to being subject to a higher tax rate, be it in other countries or in repatriating foreign profits, but what remains to be seen is what number would satisfy both the company and government leaders.

Perhaps Eric Schmidt’s “Google is a capitalist country” Freudian slip is closer to the answer. I’ll leave you with Larry Page’s comments last week at Google I/O:

“I think as technologists we should have some safe places where we can try out some new things and figure out. What is the effect on society? What’s the effect on people? Without having to deploy it into the normal world.”

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