February 25, 2015 / 2:56 PM / 5 years ago

Google investigated in Italy over tax issues - prosecutors

MILAN (Reuters) - Italian authorities are investigating whether Google (GOOGL.O) violated any tax laws in the country, Milan’s prosecutor said on Wednesday, adding that talks were under way with the U.S. company over a possible settlement.

People are silhouetted as they pose with laptops in front of a screen projected with a Google logo, in this picture illustration taken in Zenica October 29, 2014. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

Officials had started discussions with Google representatives relating to its earnings in Italy in the years from 2008 to 2013, Milan prosecutor Edmondo Bruti Liberati said in a statement. No accord had been finalised yet.

Checks on tax payments had been made as part of the investigation, the statement said.

Google was considering whether to provide information over revenues it generates in Italy, it added. It did not say when the investigation or the discussion with Google would conclude.

Authorities in countries across Europe have been investigating whether big companies like Google are using complex accounting schemes to cut their tax bills.

Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera said on Wednesday that Google had reached a settlement with Italian authorities that envisages the payment of 320 million euros (234 million pounds). That amount was calculated on a taxable income in Italy of 800 million euros over five years, the paper said.

A Google spokeswoman in Italy said in an email there had been no settlement. She said the group continued to work with the Italian tax authorities.

This is not the first time Italy has investigated Google over tax-related issues.

In November 2012 an economy ministry document said Google had developed a system to transfer profits from its Italian operations to Ireland so it could benefit from a more favourable tax regime.

The document said earlier investigations had found the group failed to declare at least 240 million euros of income to authorities and owed more than 96 million euros in sales tax.

Google has always denied any allegations of wrongdoing.

Reporting by Manuela D'Alessandro and Danilo Masoni; Editing by Keith Weir

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