Search giant Google has seen its UK annual sales rise 16% – the lowest growth rate for three years.

The California-based behemoth said total UK sales topped $5.64bn (£3.4bn), an increase of just under £500m on the previous year.

The UK is Google’s biggest foreign market, contributing 10% of total revenue – excluding the divested Motorola group – and the only one given separate figures in its US reports.

Total combined tax for all of Google was down 12%, at $3.82bn (£2.3bn).

The company said the fall in tax paid was due in part to “proportionately more earnings realised in countries that have lower statutory tax rates”.

Google has come under fire in recent years over its low UK corporation tax payments, despite multibillion revenues.

Google vice president Matt Brittin was quizzed by MPs over its UK tax

The company has been grilled by politicians on at least two occasions, as the public accounts committee (PAC) sought clarification on its tax structures and use of a Dublin base.

Its Irish centre is the headquarters for sales across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Google is expected to release its specific 2013 UK tax figure later this year as part of a normal Companies House filing process.

In 2012, its UK arm’s tax liability was £35m, including £24m for previous years, on total annual sales in Britain of £2.95bn.

Last year, PAC chair Margaret Hodge branded Google “devious, calculated and unethical” and accused the company of “deliberately manipulating the reality of their business”.

She added: “You are a company that says you do no evil and I think that you do do evil in that you use smoke and mirrors to avoid paying tax.”

Approached by Sky News, a Google UK spokesperson was unavailable for immediate comment on the latest sales or tax figures.


The US annual report filed late on Wednesday showed growth contraction of 22% in 2011, 20% in 2012 and 16% last year.

The growth easing was also reflected in its biggest market, the US, where sales were up 14% to $26.8bn (£16.2bn) compared to 34% in 2012.

The rest of the world grew by 26% in the year to $27.4bn (£16.6bn).

Online advertising rates have fallen recently but Google’s pre-eminent position has allowed it to stay out of negative territory.

Display advertising on the internet has struggled as web users become increasingly adept at navigating around ‘click through’ revenue streams.

A report last November suggested that only around one in 1,000 people voluntarily clicked onto display advertisements.