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Google is saving as much as $4 billion in taxes owed overseas by moving $22.7 billion USD to Bermuda in 2017, according to reports filed two weeks ago.
The stashed amount is almost $4 billion more than the sum Google funneled through shell companies back in 2016 and is all in an attempt to lower the overall tax bill Alphabet Inc pays worldwide.
In a statement to Bloomberg Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) came out flatly saying, "We pay all of the taxes due and comply with the tax laws in every country we operate in around the world." I guess you wouldn't expect much more from the tech giant when pressed on the issue.
The Double Irish, Dutch Sandwich
Last year we featured a piece diving into some schemes multinational corporations engage in that allow them to reduce tax liabilities. Google's strategy here, oft referred to as the "Double Irish, Dutch Sandwich" is a complicated move that sees Google start with what is essentially a shell subsidiary based in Ireland which collects overseas ad revenue. A Dutch subsidiary then holds those funds, which are then sent to another Ireland-registered subsidiary, only this time this Irish company is physically based in Bermuda. Since Bermuda doesn't charge any corporate tax Google gets away with paying much less than it otherwise would.
The scheme sees Google's EU tax bill effectively drop into the single-digit percentage, less than a third of the nominal rates in the EU, and it saves Google upwards of $4 billion in cash every year.
Ireland, for its part, has announced that the good times are indeed coming to an end. The island national originally set 2015 as the last year this scheme would work, but extended a grace period to 2020 for companies like Google and Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) that engage in the practice.
Google is said to have over $60 billion in cash out there that hasn't been repatriated back into the US yet. However, last year the US dropped its corporate tax rate to 21 percent from over 30 percent, as well as allowing companies to repatriate funds at a much-lowered 15.5 percent. We will likely see Google begin to take advantage of this as the 2020 deadline for the Irish-Dutch scheme moves closer and closer.