Google UK’s staff earned an average of more than £385,000 each in the 18 months to the end of December, as the tech company gave almost £1bn in share-based payments.
Google, which like other tech firms is looking at budget and potential job cuts as global economic conditions become tougher, reported £3.4bn in turnover and £1.1bn in pre-tax profits in the 18 months to the end of December 2021.
The company, which reported a year and a half of financial results after moving its accounting period from the end of June to December last year, paid £200m in UK corporation tax.
Google UK hired 577 staff between June 2020 and December last year, taking its total headcount to 5,701. The company employs 2,275 staff in sales and marketing roles, 2,412 in research and design and 1,014 in management and administration roles.
Google’s total staff costs hit £2.2bn in the 18-month reporting period, according to accounts filed at Companies House. The staff wage and salary bill came to £1.06bn.
The accounts show UK staff received an £829m bonanza in share-based payments, and there was £258m on social security costs and £52m in expenses relating to its defined contribution plan.
The accounts also show that Google paid £200m in UK corporation tax on its £1.1bn profits.
Like its tech peers Meta – the owner of Facebook and Instagram – and Amazon, Google is frequently the target of criticism that it does not pay enough in tax in the UK.
While the company reported £3.4bn in turnover over its 18-month reporting period, the research firm Insider Intelligence estimates that Google made almost £8.7bn in ad revenue in the UK in 2021 alone.
Google, which has its European headquarters in Ireland, where taxes are lower, reports some revenues in other jurisdictions.
“Our global effective income tax rate over the past decade has been close to 20% of our profits, in line with average statutory tax rates,” a spokesperson for Google said. “We have long supported efforts via the OECD [Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development] to update international tax rules to arrive at a system where more taxing rights are allocated to countries where products and services are consumed.”
In November, Google’s Irish subsidiary agreed to pay €218m (£183m) in back taxes to the Irish government. In 2020, Alphabet, Google’s parent company, said it would stop using a notorious tax loophole known as “the double Irish with a Dutch sandwich”.
In 2020, the UK introduced a digital services tax, which levies 2% of gross revenues, and aimed to target large digital companies that make huge revenues but report relatively small profits.
Next year, it will be replaced by a new global tax system after the OECD brokered a deal between 136 countries that will result in large multinational companies paying tax in the countries where they do business, and committing themselves to a minimum 15% corporation tax rate.
A spokesperson for Google UK said: “Any attempt to calculate average employee compensation using these figures will be highly inaccurate. We continue to invest in the UK, as a key hub of tech and innovation, adding new employees and through our purchase of the Central St Giles development [in London] for $1bn earlier this year.”