Thursday 22 August 2019

Facebook Irish tax bill was €38.3m as turnover jumped to €18.7bn

No show: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg failed to appear at a special hearing in the British parliament
No show: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg failed to appear at a special hearing in the British parliament
Gavin McLoughlin

Gavin McLoughlin

Facebook has said it paid an effective tax rate of 15.5pc in Ireland last year.

The social media's Irish arm declared a profit of €251.8m before tax last year, up from €174.3m the year before.

A total of €38.3m of tax was paid, which includes standard corporation tax, as well as the effect of non-deductible expenses plus income taxed at a higher rate.

Turnover was €18.7bn, a near 50pc rise. The company makes its money from selling online advertising.

"As the home of our international headquarters, Ireland is an important part of Facebook's story and our continued growth in 2017 demonstrated that," said Facebook Ireland boss Gareth Lambe.

"By the end of the year we'll directly employ almost 2,000 people across four sites in Ireland working on our family of apps including Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Oculus.

"We recently announced that we are expanding our investment in Ireland with the acquisition of the Bank Centre campus in Ballsbridge. This significant investment in a 14-acre campus with capacity for thousands more people demonstrates our commitment to Ireland, our desire to grow our business here and continue to contribute to the economy."

The company is also planning to expand a large data centre in Clonee, Co Meath, with construction work set to continue into 2020.

At international level the company is coming under increasing scrutiny. Concerns over the social media giant's practices, the role of political adverts and possible foreign interference in the 2016 Brexit vote and US elections are among the topics being investigated by British and European regulators.

"We've never seen anything quite like Facebook, where, while we were playing on our phones and apps, our democratic institutions... seem to have been upended by frat-boy billionaires from California," Canadian lawmaker Charlie Angus said at a special international hearing at Britain's parliament.

"So Mr Zuckerberg's decision not to appear here at Westminster (Britain's parliament) to me speaks volumes," he said, later suggesting Facebook could be broken up to help address the issues.

Facebook says it complies with EU data protection laws, but Richard Allan, the company's vice-president of policy solutions who appeared in Mr Zuckerberg's stead, admitted it had made mistakes.

"I'm not going to disagree with you that we've damaged public trust through some of the actions we've taken," he said.

Facebook said last year that Russian agents used its platform to spread disinformation before and after the 2016 US presidential election, an accusation Moscow denies.

Additional reporting Reuters

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