Google tax deal - now it gets political

Google office

So, we have had a morning of political reaction to Google's tax deal with Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC), which the BBC led on last night.

The Conservatives are saying it is a "vindication" of their approach to call for multi-nationals to pay more tax in the UK.

Labour are not convinced the deal amounts to very much at all and want the details published.

I think two things are significant.

First, Chancellor George Osborne appeared to have his eye on Facebook when he told me this morning he "expects more companies to follow suit".

The tech firm faced a barrage of criticism when it was revealed it paid £4,000 in corporation tax, in 2014.

My sources have suggested that so far the company sees no reason to change its tax structures, which are perfectly legal.

Commons debate

Secondly, when I asked the chancellor whether details of the Google deal should be published the direction of travel was clear.

"I think a very important principle in our system is that people's tax affairs are confidential between themselves and our independent HMRC," he replied.

It doesn't appear Mr Osborne will be backing shadow chancellor John McDonnell's call for HMRC to open its books on this deal.

Mr McDonnell told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that he would raise the issue in the House of Commons on Monday.

He has described the amount Google is paying as "relatively trivial".

Mr Osborne doesn't want to be dragged into the question of whether Google is paying enough.

"Let's be clear, decisions on our individual taxes are for our independent HMRC," he told me.

"The HMRC says that is the right amount of tax for the profits made by Google."

And that, he thinks, is that.

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