Spanish authorities raid Google offices over tax

Officials who were conducting a tax probe at one of Google's Madrid offices leave the premises in Madrid, Spain, June 30, 2016. REUTERS/Andrea Comas

MADRID (Reuters) - Spanish officials raided Google’s Madrid offices on Thursday in a tax probe, authorities said, barely a month after the internet company had its headquarters in France searched on suspicion of tax evasion.

A spokeswoman for Google said in a statement the company complied with fiscal legislation in Spain just as it did in all countries where it operated. The company was working with authorities to answer all questions, the spokeswoman added.

Google is under pressure across Europe from politicians and the public upset at how multinationals exploit their presence around the world to minimize their tax bills.

Thursday’s raid was approved by a court in the capital and followed a request by the Spanish tax authorities, according to a brief statement by the Madrid High Court.

Google, part of Alphabet Inc, pays little tax in most of Europe because it reports almost all sales in Ireland. This is possible thanks to a loophole in international tax law and hinges on staff in Dublin concluding all sales contracts.

The Paris raid aimed to establish whether Google Ireland has a permanent base there, and whether the firm was meeting its tax obligations. It was part of a probe into aggravated tax fraud and organized laundering of the proceeds.