Google Canada, Please Pay Your Taxes.

It is great news that Kitchener-Waterloo will be Google Canada headquarters for its development team. It’s such a big deal for Canada’s knowledge economy that Justin Trudeau will be at the opening. But will he take a moment to pull Google executives aside and ask them to pay their fair share of federal taxes?

Google is notoriously anti-tax.  It is known world-wide for its use of tax schemes and has at least 25 shell companies in known tax havens. Over the past decade it has circumvented tens of billions in taxes by virtually pipelining its profits to Bermuda.

Canada is among hundreds of countries losing out on revenues that could be used for education, healthcare and more. The search engine giant is one best known brands in this country. And Canadians are among its biggest users. Yet, the revenue it generates and the taxes its pays (or doesn’t pay) are closely guarded secrets. How does the company do it? Try Googling “double Irish” – the word brazen doesn’t begin to do it justice.

Diversifying the Canadian economy is a no-brainer. But letting hi-tech companies get away with stashing profits offshore is bad fiscal policy. Canada’s tax laws need to reflect the realities of the tech age. Finance Minister Bill Morneau and Revenue Minister Diane Lebouthillier need a plan to do this. It is worth billions.