Google now pays more money in EU fines than it pays in taxes

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Google files 2018 revenues revealing that it pays $900m more in fines than it pays in taxes

Google owner Alphabet has reported annual and quarterly revenues up again, largely on the back of increasing market share in online advertising.

The company reported fourth quarter revenues up 22 per cent to $39.28 billion, while annual revenues were up 23 per cent to $136.8 billion.

And the company also took the time to separate out "European Commission fines" in its consolidated statements of income in the company's accounts. These increased from $2.7 billion in 2017 to $5.1 billion in 2018, with a further €50 million already set to be added to the bill for its first quarter and 2019 accounts, thanks to French data protection authority CNIL.

That fine compares to a provision for income taxes of just $4.2 billion for 2018, or 12 per cent of its pre-tax income. 

Net income for the full year increased by a 143 per cent from $12.67 billion to $30.74 billion thanks largely to a radically lower provision for income taxes - down from $14.5 billion to just $4.2 billion.

The company attributed this tax boost down to the US Tax Act of 2017, which had depressed net income in 2017. This had "resulted in additional tax expense of $9.9 billion in the fourth quarter of 2017, primarily due to the one-time transition tax on accumulated foreign subsidiary earnings and deferred tax effects", the company claimed in its earnings release [PDF].

The US remains the company's largest market, accounting for 47 per cent of the company's total turnover, while EMA is Alphabet's second largest market, accounting for 31.4 per cent of the company's fourth quarter revenues.

And, despite big spending on ‘moon shots' and other research and development efforts, the company remains overwhelmingly dependent on Google and the market for online advertising for the lion's share of its revenues. Indeed, Google accounted for all but $595 million of the company's $136.8 billion in annual revenues.

It's ‘other bets', as it describes non-Google activities, saw losses balloon during 2018, increasing from $2.7 billion to $3.36 billion.

Google's continuing increases in revenues come as other companies reliant for their revenues on internet advertising cut jobs. Buzzfeed, Vice Media and others have all shed jobs in the new year on the back of an ongoing struggle to achieve profitability.

However, despite the rising revenues and net income, the company's stock traded down following the announcement, with investors concerned over the increase in the 'cost of revenues' lines in Alphabet's consolidated statements of income, from $45.6 billion in 2017 to $59.5 billion in 2018.

Research and development also increased by just under one-third, from $16.63 billion to $21.42 billion.

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