Google is currently under a lot of pressure from the European Union and its individual members. In addition to defending itself in three separate antitrust cases, the Mountain View-based tech giant also isn't making any friends on the Old Continent by using rather aggressive means of tax avoidance. Earlier this year, the company's Spanish office was raided in a tax investigation, after a similar measure was already taken against the firm's Paris office. The French Finance Minister Michel Sapin and many other politicians throughout Europe are adamant to pressure Google into paying more taxes, especially after the Alphabet-owned company managed to strike a controversial tax deal with authorities in the United Kingdom.
Despite this increasing political pressure, Google is seemingly willing to continue with these practices as the company's representatives are quick to point out the fact that tax avoidance isn't illegal. Now, several regulatory filings in the Netherlands recently shed some new light on Google's tax structure and related policies. As reported by Bloomberg, the Mountain View-based company managed to avoid $3.6 billion in taxes in 2015 by using a shell company in Bermuda. More specifically, the firm's Dutch subsidiary Google Netherlands Holdings BV reportedly transferred $15.5 billion to the said shell company last year, thus saving $3.6 billion in taxes. That's a 40% increase in comparison to what the Alphabet-owned Internet firm was transferring to Bermuda in 2014, which indicates that Google is gradually becoming more aggressive when it comes to avoiding taxes.
This information was revealed in several documents that Google's Dutch subsidiary filed with the Dutch Chamber of Commerce earlier this month. Interestingly enough, despite being founded 12 years ago, the Amsterdam-based firm still has no employees, and regulators are obviously less than thrilled with the fact that Google is using it to move revenue to offshore accounts. This controversial tax structure is commonly referred to as a "Dutch sandwich" or a "Double Irish, " and as things stand right now, European regulators have no legal means of effectively stopping it seeing how what Google is doing isn't illegal. It remains to be seen whether the company will continue employing these techniques if the President-elect Donald Trump decides to go through with the tax reform he previously discussed. Namely, Trump's original idea was to allow US companies to bring back foreign profits at a universal tax rate of 10%, which would encourage Google and other companies currently avoiding foreign taxes to bring back more revenue to their home country.