Google is the latest U.S. company to come under foreign scrutiny for possible tax evasion. Reuters said Friday that investigators in Paris, France, “raided” Google’s local offices “as part of a probe into tax evasion and money laundering.” Those sound like pretty serious charges, and, unfortunately, details remain relatively slim at this point.
Reuters said that the investigation might be related to Google Ireland Ltd, which “failed in its fiscal obligations to France.” Ireland has gotten Apple in trouble, too, since it has provided an alleged “tax loophole” to tech companies. In Apple’s case, the company has been accused of keeping its cash in Ireland through a firm named Apple Operations International, which doesn’t have tax residency in Ireland or the U.S., doesn’t have employees and doesn’t create products.
“These searches are the result of a preliminary investigation opened on June 16, 2015 relative to aggravated tax fraud and organized money laundering following a complaint from French fiscal authorities,” the Paris prosecutor’s office told the AP. “The investigation is aimed at finding out whether Google Ireland Ltd. is permanently established in France and if, by not declaring some of its activity on French soil, it has failed to meet its fiscal obligations, in particular with regard to corporation tax and value added tax.” Google said it’s fully cooperating with authorities.
End of the day? Probably lots of paperwork, lots of lawyering and maybe a big fine.