Google investors tell board not to be so evil

A group of activist investors is pushing the Google board to stop being so evil when it comes to paying tax.

Google has managed to miff the known world by avoiding paying tax by funnelling its stonking profits through off-shore bank accounts and having its HQ in Ireland.

Google’s annual shareholder meeting is taking place today and Domini Social Equity Fund, which has close to $1 billion of assets, and five other investors in the internet firm want the company to adopt a code of conduct on tax that would bring its corporate structures back in line with its “Don’t be evil” motto.

“A set of principles to address misalignments between Google’s tax strategies and its commitments to employees, communities, shareholders and the environment would help protect long-term value,” they will argue in a proposal to be voted on at Google’s annual shareholder meeting.

Vodafone adopted a similar programme in the wake of criticism of its tax planning, and to Johnson & Johnson’s “Credo”, which is carved in stone in at the group’s New Jersey headquarters, promising to “bear our fair share of taxes”.

The move is opposed by Google chairman, Eric Schmidt, and his board because it will harm Google’s profits.

Schmidt says the company is in favour of tax reform efforts being pursued by the G20 group of leading industrialised countries and others, and does not want to pre-empt this work by publishing its own principles unilaterally.

However, Google is a member of the Digital Economy Group which has been aggressively lobbying OECD tax experts against targeting tech firms with new tax rules.