Thursday, October 21, 2010

Google's products, not being so evil

Our latest "Don't be Evil" blog about Google's tax affairs is now followed by a take on Google from a different direction: the corporation, or at least its products, have been helping tax authorities squirrel out tax dodgers! As the Guardian reports:

Using Google Earth, the unit recently announced it had discovered some 50,000 "undeclared" swimming pools as well as tracing the owners of an estimated 2,500 state-of-the-art pleasure boats moored in marinas around the capital. Politicians with power cruisers costing as much as €1.5m, but which have never appeared on tax returns, have been outed.

So while we hate Google's tax department, we like many of its products! And, separately, we are delighted to see this, in the context of Greece's famously disastrous national finances:

"Bank accounts abroad have also been targeted as Papandreou, in an unprecedented step, has taken the fight against tax evasion beyond Greek borders. "We have opened bank accounts in Liechtenstein and plan to open others in Switzerland and the City of London," Kapeleris said. "We have discovered deposits that make the mind boggle, huge amounts that simply do not correspond to professed professional activity."

Luxury villas on far-flung islands – some belonging to Britons and other foreign nationals – that were rented without ever being declared had similarly been unearthed. "We have been in touch with tax authorities in the UK and other EU states," he said. "Some of these villas are rented for tens of thousands of euros a month."

This could get interesting.

And on the subject of villas and swimming pools that you can find on Google Earth, this is why we think land value taxation is such a good idea. It's an incredibly simple system, and with the right political will, near-impossible to avoid. Read more on this here.


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