Hightower Lambasts Google’s Bermuda Move

November 18, 2010

1jimBermuda earned a mention in today’s [Nov.18] syndicated column by outspoken American political and social commentator Jim Hightower – but it’s not the sort of publicity the island relishes.

In a piece headlined “Corporate Flimflammers in Our Communities and Congress”, Hightower rails against Internet giant Google’s decision to engage in tax avoidance using off-shore financial centres including Bermuda. As a result Google has cut its US tax bill by more than $3 billion in three years.

“A Bloomberg News reporter reveals that Google transfers a big chunk of its annual profits to a subsidiary in Ireland,” he said. “Then, prior to tax time, Google funnels these profits into a shell corporation in the Netherlands, from which they are bounced into yet another shell corporation in Bermuda.

“It’s not natural beauty that draws Google to the islands, but the fact that Bermuda assesses no taxes on corporate profits. Bottom line: Google escapes paying a billion dollars a year that it ethically owes in US taxes.”

Texas-born Hightower is an unabashed populist — he once said the only things you find in the middle of the road are yellow lines and dead armadilloes.

A one-time radio commentator for ABC, his nationally-syndicated column is carried by more than 75 weekly newspapers. He also writes a monthly newsletter “The Hightower Lowdown,” which boasts more than 125,000 subscribers.

The newsletter is characterised by its in-depth reporting and unapologetically partisan tone. During George W. Bush’s administration, Hightower frequently said the White House was beholden to multi-national corporations and fringe conservative ideologues.

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  1. IRS Probes Google’s Bermuda Tax Avoidance | Bernews.com | October 13, 2011
  1. Call as it is says:

    He looks a real a$$hole and anyone that reads his drivel and believes what he writes is an a##hole too

  2. jredmond says:

    Come on now…he’s not wrong. Google is doing exactly what he says they’re doing. He’s not an a##hole for pointing out the truth. Now if he said Bermuda was a horibble place because we don’t tax corporations he would be an a##hole, but from what I can gather he’s not.

  3. Sad but true says:

    It’s true and it’s morally wrong, but we all choose to ignore the fact because this type of business supports our families’ livelihoods in this country…

  4. Truth says:

    No it doesn’t.

    Companies that set up a physical presence in Bermuda (Ace,XL and many others) here supports our families by hiring locals and expats who buy and rent properties and who support our local economy in a variety of different ways. Shell corporations do very little in this area. They pay their annual fee to the Registrar of Companies but the fee is small in comparison and there isn’t too much more than that. Truthfully, Bermuda can do without that business because it is small in terms or revenue but the negative publicity that comes along with it is just not worth it, in my opinion.

  5. Tigga says:

    The point that Hightower misses is that whilst these companies certainly do avoid taxes, this enables them to do business at a lower cost to the public. He cites a figure of $3 billion, but who do you think would bear the burden of a $3billion tax bill? Do you think google would just say ‘Oh Well’ and take it off their bottom line? No way – the cost would be passed on to the consumer.