Google tax avoidance: European president tells MPs he doesn't know how much he's paid

From Jon Stone, published at Thu Feb 11 2016

A top Google boss giving evidence to MPs about the company’s tax deal has admitted he doesn’t know how much he gets paid.

Matt Brittin, the President of Google’s European, Middle Eastern and African arm, told the Public Accounts Committee that he was not sure what his basic salary even was.

Asked five times to clarify, the technology giant boss said he would look the amount up after the session – apparently unable to provide even a “ballpark figure”.

He was accused by MPs living in “another world” to ordinary voters, who chair and Labour MP Meg Hillier told him were angry.

The Public Accounts Committee is currently conducting an inquiry into a tax settlement announced between Google and HMRC.

Mr Brittin said he understood the public reaction to the company’s deal, but Ms Hillier questioned whether this was in fact true.

“Do you understand the anger? What do you get paid Mr Brittin?” she said.

He replied: “If that’s relevant I’ll happily disclose that to the committee. What I understand is…”

The MP interrupted and pressed the point home, however: “I’m asking what you get paid,” she said.

“I’ll happily disclose that if that’s a relevant matter for the committee in private,” he responded.

But the MP clarified: “I’m asking you, so it’s a relevant matter.”

“I don’t have the figure but I’ll happily provide it,” he replied.

She countered: “You don’t know what you get paid, Mr Brittin? Perhaps you could give us a ballpark on what you get paid? Forget the share options, what’s your basic salary?”

The executive could not give a ballpark figure, however, describing it only as “a salary”.

“It’s a salary … I don’t have the figure but I’ll provide the figure privately, if it’s relevant to the committee to understand my salary.”

Ms Hillier concluded: “You don’t know what you get paid, ok. Out there taxpayers, our constituents, are very angry. They live in a different world, clearly, if you can’t even tell us what you’re actually paid.”

Google announced a £130m tax deal with HMRC last month after years of criticism over its tax bill.

The deal was criticised as too low by some opposition politiicans, with shadow chancellor John McDonnell saying the sum was “trivial” and “derisory”. for the tech giant.