Public anger at Google's tax arrangements has been described as 'palpable' by the chair of the Public Accounts Committee

Google tax scandal: France demands 10x more than UK

France is seeking €1.6bn (£1.3bn) in back taxes from Google following similar actions in the UK that saw Google pay £130m.

"As far as our country is concerned, back taxes concerning this company amount to €1.6bn," according to a government official.

A spokeswoman for Google France declined to comment on the amount, saying only that the company obeyed tax rules in all countries where it operated.

Earlier this month, the French Finance Minister Michel Sapin ruled out striking a deal with the search giant in a similar fashion to the British government, saying the sums at stake in France were ‘far greater’ than those in Britain.

The UK’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) recently described Google's UK settlement as ‘disproportionately small’.

In addition, MPs have admitted that the public have expressed anger at the agreement with HM Revenue & Customs which covers taxes due over the past 10 years.

Both France and Britain have complained in the past at the way Google, Yahoo! and other digital brands have generated huge profits in their countries but have their tax base in countries such as Ireland, where corporate tax rates are far lower.

But the complaints have made little legal headway because EU tax law protects companies against paying tax in a country where they do not have what is termed a ‘permanent establishment’.

Meg Hillier, who chairs the PAC, said: "Public anger has been palpable ever since this settlement was announced and we still don't know the full details.

"Whether you call it secrecy or confidentiality, this lack of transparency does nothing to build confidence that big corporations are paying their fair share of tax.

"Google has been keen to parade its enthusiasm for simplicity in the tax system but the fact remains the company has chosen to set up a complicated tax strategy specifically designed to minimise its tax bill."

Some MPs have said they are concerned that the British taxman ‘appears to have settled for less’ corporation tax from Google than other countries are willing to accept.

But a lack of transparency over the details of the settlement and how it was reached meant it is difficult to judge whether it is fair to taxpayers.

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