Google's Paris office raided following tax evasion claims

A Google logo on the outside of one of its offices

French Police raided Google's Paris HQ yesterday as part of a tax investigation, claiming the company owes up to $1.8 billion in unpaid taxes.

French newspaper Le Parisien revealed the raid began at 5am, with more than 100 officials involved in the investigation. The raid lasted most of yesterday, according to sources in the city who spoke to the publication.

"These searches are the result of a preliminary investigation opened on June 16, 2015 relative to aggravated tax fraud and organised money laundering following a complaint from French fiscal authorities," the prosecutor's office told the Associated Press.

"The investigation is aimed at finding out whether Google Ireland Ltd. is permanently established in France and if, by not declaring some of its activity on French soil, it has failed to meet its fiscal obligations, in particular with regard to corporation tax and value added tax."

A spokesperson for Google told The Verge: "We comply with French law and are cooperating fully with the authorities to answer their questions."

It would appear that Google is aware that it may not have paid all its taxes, but CEO Sundar Pichai blamed complicated global tax systems rather than taking responsibility.

"We're a global company. We have to abide by tax laws everywhere, we do abide by local tax laws in every single country," he said during a visit to Paris earlier this year. "We're advocating strongly for a simpler global tax system," Pichai added.

Its tax payments came under scrutiny in the UK earlier this year when the government handed it a 130 million tax bill, which amounted to just three per cent tax over 10 years.

Google isn't the only tech giant under investigation for failing to pay its taxes. Facebook and Amazon have both had their European operations investigated after failing to pay the full amount of tax on revenues in the continent over the last few years.

Clare Hopping
Freelance writer

Clare is the founder of Blue Cactus Digital, a digital marketing company that helps ethical and sustainability-focused businesses grow their customer base.

Prior to becoming a marketer, Clare was a journalist, working at a range of mobile device-focused outlets including Know Your Mobile before moving into freelance life.

As a freelance writer, she drew on her expertise in mobility to write features and guides for ITPro, as well as regularly writing news stories on a wide range of topics.