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Google - what laws?

11 April 2019

We all know about Google's "clever" strategies for reducing their tax burden in most countries.

If you or I structure our tax affairs so as to avoid paying tax then the IRD steps in, assesses what *they* think we ought to have paid and then slaps on interest and charges -- before threatening to haul our arses through court if we don't ante-up the total amount.

I've written a number of times before about even quite legal arrangements have been deemed to be "avoidance" and thus unacceptable to the guardians of the trough.

There are of course those who are gifted immunity from such actions. I'm talking about Google, Facebook, Apple and others that are seemingly far to big to qualify for the attentions of our taxman. Far better to collect the low-hanging fruit than dare tangling with a behemoth like one of the tech giants eh?

One might almost get the impression that these companies are above the law.

Further proof of that has just been seen in Australia.

That immunity to the laws under which the rest of us must operate appears to be taking place with Google's drone delivery trials in Canberra.

How ironic it is that, in the same year that Australia bans under-16-year-olds from flying toy planes without adult supervision, the same authorities are simply ignoring some aspects of the nation's regulations to give Google permission to fly over people's heads and houses to deliver takeaways and such by drone.

Yep... it's the same old thing. It's not what you know but who you are and who you know that seems to matter in today's world.

As of November this year, a 15-year-old Australian won't be legally allowed to fly a 251g toy plane or drone in their own back yard without the supervision of an adult who has sat and passed the drone-competency test -- bug Google will be able to fly their multi-Kg craft over other people's houses and back yards with impunity.

One former Australian airspace regulator claims that the current trials are illegal due to a failure to get noise approval before launching -- but hey, when has Google ever needed to worry about laws being enforced against it (outside of the EU that is)?

In fact, the noise issue from Google's drone delivery trials seem to be causing a real stink right now and everyone's busy trying to dodge responsibility.

Let's also not forget that as of November this year, any Australian wanting to fly a drone or RC model aircraft weighing more than 250g will have to register and pay an annual fee of $20 for the privilege. Yes, that's right... what was once a freedom has been turned into a (pay for the) privilege by politicians and regulators who seem to be far more concerned about the imaginary risks associated with kids and their toys than with the very real issues caused by Google's drone-related activities.

I have to say that I am growing increasingly concerned at the amount of muscle and clout that the world's biggest companies have gained in recent times. "Too big to touch" seems to be the new attitude within the worlds of our regulators and politicians when it comes to dealing with these mega-corporations.

And, as a result, they pay little or no tax, get a blind-eye turned when they want to do something that no "regular taxpayer" is allowed to do, and effectively have a giant "get out of jail free" card which they are increasingly pulling out whenever it is convenient (or profitable) for them to do-so.

And all the while, the good old "regular blokes and blokesses" continue to pay their taxes, follow the laws and effectively fund this lunacy.

What do readers think?

Is it time to start complaining about the immunity that power and wealth now seems to offer to those corporations that are "too big to touch"?

Don't we have more than enough evidence to prove that this is simply a corruption of the system under which the rest of us must live?

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