he space of a week, two of Silicon Valley’s biggest personalities have turned the tax debate on its head. Following Google’s Matt Brittin’s repeated public maulings at the hands of Margaret Hodge’s Public Accounts Committee, the search giant’s chairman Eric Schmidt decided to fly in last week to tell MPs just what Brittin should have (although the fact that the trip coincided with Schmidt’s own book tour may also have helped).
At Google’s star-studded Big Tent last week, Schmidt made a striking case for reform, even causing Ed Miliband – invited to engage with Schmidt – to welcome his comments and talk about how Labour would change the system, rather than simply berating Google á la Hodge.
In a similar vein, Apple boss Tim Cook used a Senate dressing down to push for a flatter tax rate without complex subsidies, and appeared to win a supporter or two by the end of his testimony.
David Cameron is now working on a global tax deal – some action rather than words is welcome.