French police raided Google’s Paris headquarters this morning, following a drawn-out tax fraud investigation that started back in 2011,reports.
Around 100 tax officers entered Google’s offices at 5:00 AM local time looking for evidence and documents to attest Google’s tax-dodging ways.
In the past months, French officials have accused the US-based company of dodging local tax laws by funneling profits to its official European headquarters based in Dublin, Ireland.
Officials believe Google should pay taxes in France because it has a Paris HQ
Authorities are claiming that the company is operating permanent offices in Paris, so it must abide by local laws and pay French taxes, which are among the highest in Europe. On the other hand, Ireland has the lowest corporate tax in the EU, and many other companies, such as Microsoft, have headquarters there.
Local authorities started an inquiry into Google’s supposed tax fraud in 2011 when they raided their French offices for the first time. France informed Google about plans to pursue an official investigation in March 2014.
French officials claim that Google owes them €1.6 billion ($1.8 billion) in back taxes. At the start of 2016, Google faced a similar investigation in the UK, but the tech giant reached an accord with British authorities.
Google just settled tax fraud accusations in the UK
Google agreed to pay the UK government £130 million (€172 million / 191 million) in back taxes for the last ten years, for the same accusations which the company is now facing in France, of dodging local tax laws via its Dublin HQ.
RFI reports that French Finance Minister Michel Sapin did not intend to reach any similar deal with Google. The French official claims that the sum Google owes is just too big to ignore.
For its part, Google said it will cooperate with the investigation, and will abide by local rulings.