Under this arrangement, which as far as we know is still in place, it is Google Ireland Limited that actually licenses the tech of Google’s main business to all the Google affiliates in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. (Google has a similar offshoot in Singapore that covers business in Asia).
See where this is going? In 2015, $15.5 billion in profits made their way to Google Ireland Holdings in Bermuda even though Google employs only a handful of people there. It’s as if each inhabitant of the island nation had made the company $240,000.
In doing this, Google didn’t break the law. Corporations like Google are simply shifting profits to places where corporate taxes are low. It’s not just Internet companies with valuable intellectual property that do this. A car manufacturer, for instance, might shift profits by manipulating export and import prices – exporting car components from America to Ireland at artificially low prices, and importing them back at prices that are artificially high.