Google profits skyrocket by moving revenue to shell company

Many large companies have come under fire in recent years for transferring revenues to shell corporations in no-tax countries, and it appears Google is quickly becoming one of the leading culprits.

According to a new report by Bloomberg, Google saved about $2 billion in worldwide income taxes during 2011 by "shifting $9.8 billion in revenues into a Bermuda shell company." That figure represents nearly double the amount Google shifted into its Bermuda shell company three years ago, the report claims.

Because Bermuda doesn't have a corporate income tax, Google saves billions by moving its money to the country. Tactics like this have enraged some activists, who claim that companies engaging in such tactics are depriving national governments of money that was earned in their countries, which would go to governmental programs and repaying debts to decrease deficits.

Bloomberg claims the amount Google shifted to its Bermuda shell company represents the equivalent of about 80 percent of the company's total pretax profits for the year in question.

A statement released by Google's UK branch says the company is complying with tax laws and that its employment of residents in the countries it operates in helps boost the local economies.

"We make a substantial contribution to the UK economy through local, payroll and corporate taxes," the statement says. "We also employ over 2,000 people, help hundreds of thousands of businesses to grow online and invest millions supporting new tech businesses in east London. We comply with all the tax rules in the UK."

According to Bloomberg's report, Google's Bermuda shell company makes money through a series of transfers between other Google subsidiaries. First, ads are sold in countries such as the U.K. and France, then those revenues go to an Irish subsidiary. The Irish subsidiary then pays royalties to another Irish subsidiary, with the latter subsidiary having a legal residence in Bermuda.

Source: Bloomberg

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If it's legal they are doing what any smart business would.
If it's illegal then the government needs to come down on them hard and fast.

You like it how Google is avoiding tax because you are Google fan-boys. If it was any other company you wouldn't be that amused.

Google should so the right thing and pay up! Pay the UK and USA their rightfully corporate tax money. BOYCOTT GOOGLE IF YOU LIKE THE U.S.A.!

NeoPogo said,
Google should so the right thing and pay up! Pay the UK and USA their rightfully corporate tax money. BOYCOTT GOOGLE IF YOU LIKE THE U.S.A.!

Boycott Google if you like USA's taxes.

tsk tsk

Taxes are paying:
a) pointless wars.
b) fatty politician caste.
c) crappy health system
d) crappy public system.
e) public infrastructure (that sometime we paid again).

David Cameron is 100% right on this issue.. Just the UK closing its tax loopholes won't fix the problem. It needs to be fixed internationally, with all nations agreeing on legislating to prevent this from happening, otherwise it will just continue.

I am not one to say I understand the tax laws, or what the loopholes exists. The fault in someway is ours. If you would educate ourselves and try to understand what it is politicians feed us to vote for them, would be a start in the right direction. Consumers are the driving force for companies making the million, billions they make. All we have to do is stop running out to buy the latest gadget that comes out.
It is sad, very sad that most of use that knows better encourage such things. We try to buy our children by giving them the latest and greastest to prove we are good parents. Then we complain when the younger generation thinks going to school is useless because they can just read a book, publish an app, make some money and that's it.
We are the ones that make these big companies into the giants they are. Until we take an active roll in understanding our surrondings and that us making these people believe they are smarter and more intelligent than us, we will continue to see things like this.

RedX said,
.....

No. The consumer is not the driving force. That would be like calling livestock the driving force behind a slaughterhouse.

Shareholders demand profit, consumers are the vehicle to obtain profits.


The shareholders are the driving force, and those who sit on the boards of these multi-billion dollar corporations collectively have no scruples.

From an Irish point of view this is legal, and is one of the reason company's like Goggle keep operations in Ireland, which benefits us as they provide hight Quality/Paying Jobs. They end up paying an effective tax rate here of 2.5%, Google are not the only ones some others are Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Oracle, Pfizer and Adobe.
Its called Double Irish : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double_Irish_arrangement

xirtam said,
From an Irish point of view this is legal, and is one of the reason company's like Goggle keep operations in Ireland, which benefits us as they provide hight Quality/Paying Jobs. They end up paying an effective tax rate here of 2.5%, Google are not the only ones some others are Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Oracle, Pfizer and Adobe.
Its called Double Irish : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double_Irish_arrangement
Yep. The problem is that in countries like Ireland, they rely on these initiatives to make themselves attractive to big companies. Without it, these big companies won't see Ireland and similar countries as attractive, hence less people being employed hence less money coming into the Government coffers, etc. Of course problem is it also affects other countries in the European Union.

Especially in these austerity times, the likes the Ireland are in such a mess that they can't afford to decide to get all moralistic and raise the corporation tax to be in line with other countries as these companies may then simply move to another country (why be based in Ireland when another, more richer EU country with a similar rate of corporation tax that Ireland are looking to move it up to will do), which will mean more people unemployed, less money going into Government coffers and would result in even bigger political cuts that may drive more people into even more hardship/lose houses as a result of not paying mortgage/etc.

So not saying it shouldn't be done, but saying that the situation really needs careful understanding and handling.

Meph said,
I think Bermuda should introduce a corporate tax just to troll them.

I think they should, but at a very very low rate.

They shouldn't be allowed to do this but at the end of the day, it's all in the rules. Who wouldn't jump at the chance to save $2 billion a year?

Sly_Ripper said,
They shouldn't be allowed to do this but at the end of the day, it's all in the rules. Who wouldn't jump at the chance to save $2 billion a year?

Maybe because it's unethical, selfish and effectively theft.

ingramator said,

Maybe because it's unethical, selfish and effectively theft.


Since when are corporations concerned about ethics?

Google, Apple, Microsoft, loads of the big players are at this. If one choose not to they put themselves at a disadvantage and pressure would pile on from shareholders. A way to nuke this problem would be trade sanctions on offending nations and trade bans for those countries that are hell bent on it like the Cayman Islands.

thealexweb said,
Google, Apple, Microsoft, loads of the big players are at this. If one choose not to they put themselves at a disadvantage and pressure would pile on from shareholders. A way to nuke this problem would be trade sanctions on offending nations and trade bans for those countries that are hell bent on it like the Cayman Islands.

That's one way or the governments could make them stump up for all the cash they try and evade, publicly humiliating them in the process.

the420kid said,
you all voted for this government. OWN it.

Yes because the tax system has just magically appeared in the last few months / years. There haven't been any major changes to the tax system recently -.^

the420kid said,
you all voted for this government. OWN it.

People vote for politicians, they don't get to decide what their politicians vote on. As thealexweb pointed out as well, this isn't a new issue, it's something that's been going on for a while.

the420kid said,
you all voted for this government. OWN it.

It wasn't the fault of THIS government.
Take a look at every tax break for the rich that has happened over the last 100 years.
The US founding fathers couldn't conceive of the corporation at the time, nor globalization. The groundwork that they set in place was quickly eroded by their successors for personal gain.

Heck, even Mitt Romney did this in 2009.

This morning on the news I saw that the US is going another 16.3 trillion dollars in debt unless they raise taxes on the middle class (which by the way will only cover about 82 billion dollars). I guess they better start going after all the big tax dodging corporations...

osm0sis said,
Don't hate the player, hate the game.
Exactly. At the end of the day, these companies are only doing what they are compelled to do - i.e. maximise their worth. It is up to the governments to have the balls to actually make people play by the same rules.

osm0sis said,
Don't hate the player, hate the game.

you want be saying that when you suffer the consequences.
that recession recently was cause by attitudes like yours.
and you have the audacity and nerve to say that to foreclosure victims's thrown on the street and people who lost their jobs because of cut backs as the fall out trickles its way down in society.

I hope you lose your house and get layed off "playa"

I am Not PCyr said,

you want be saying that when you suffer the consequences.
that recession recently was cause by attitudes like yours.
and you have the audacity and nerve to say that to foreclosure victims's thrown on the street and people who lost their jobs because of cut backs as the fall out trickles its way down in society.

I hope you lose your house and get layed off "playa"

Hyperbolic much?

I personally Hate Google, Have no accounts with them anymore, told my teenagers to delete all their Google accounts too.

However, the taxation on these companies is stupid. People are clueless on how much money they do pay. Governments just want the money so they can continue pay for the Lazy people of the world.

If the Rich kill the flow of money, which they have the power to do, maybe the governments will start spending money responsible.

If I ever get rich, I will do the same..............

pay for the lazy people of the world or the programs implements by the govt.
what percentage of that is lazy people ?
Military budget including black op's projects ?
All the various projects setup and funded by the govt thatare not been regulated by the govt ?
You bitch about lazy people while your govt. hands over billions ans says we'll just trust you spend it wisely..
Ya gotta look at the budgets of, Darpa, FBI, CIE, ICE, Dept Homeland Security etc..

Your pretty ignorant if you think lazy people are eating your tax money..

This simply needs to stop and now. Corporations shouldn't have to do this and shouldn't be allowed to do this. I don't care if its business as usually and everyone does it because everyone does it - It just isn't right. Off shoring your business to avoid taxes avoids paying for the freedoms that you enjoy that allow your business to operate in this country - be it roads, security, infrastructure, health & safety. It's also disgusting to see this especially after how much debt cities assume to get Google jobs / facilities and If google isn't paying their share of the cost as a taxed corporation it just means the cities of the world are financing the profits of a mega corporation doing everything it can to avoid paying for its share of the burden it has on society.

spudtrooper said,
This simply needs to stop and now. Corporations shouldn't have to do this and shouldn't be allowed to do this. I don't care if its business as usually and everyone does it because everyone does it - It just isn't right. Off shoring your business to avoid taxes avoids paying for the freedoms that you enjoy that allow your business to operate in this country - be it roads, security, infrastructure, health & safety. It's also disgusting to see this especially after how much debt cities assume to get Google jobs / facilities and If google isn't paying their share of the cost as a taxed corporation it just means the cities of the world are financing the profits of a mega corporation doing everything it can to avoid paying for its share of the burden it has on society.

Well said. It's parasitic.

agreed and it shouldn't be a situation where you can avoid the law once you become a big enough company..

can you say the rich get richer and the poor...

The problem currently is that the politicians have us bickering over trivial issues and real problems are overshadowed. There are big transitions happening right now with privacy, debt, employment but the politicians would have you argue over planned parenthood or praying in school.

Where big business takes their money is an ethical problem and each side has merit. Google is doing what it can to be as profitable as it can be. The governments which host the majority of their business loses out. I'm waiting for some politician to actually care about these problems.

I think it's about time governments step up and close the loopholes. We can pick on the companies for being morally suspect but the politicians looking for future jobs at whatever company, succumbing to lobbying etc. need to be looked at, the real problem that needs fixed first so the loopholes can be closed and all companies pay their fair share. As ever, there are quiet on the subject because it's their gravy train. Campaigners need to focus on them more so than companies.

Tk1917 said,

A company maximising it's profits... Evil!

real leaders lead by example and not by exploiting loop holes for their gain.

chances are i can get away with some crime so should i do it ?

I love Google and all that they do to try and keep the internet moving forward rather than backward (SOPA, PIPA, etc.) but I still can't stand this side of them. I know this is normal business practices for lots of large companies. I just wish it wasn't possible to do for any of them. Maybe some day the world's Government's will wake up and close loopholes that allow this.

csfeist said,
I love Google and all that they do to try and keep the internet moving forward rather than backward (SOPA, PIPA, etc.) but I still can't stand this side of them. I know this is normal business practices for lots of large companies. I just wish it wasn't possible to do for any of them. Maybe some day the world's Government's will wake up and close loopholes that allow this.

Agreed. This is only harming the general population of the countries in which they work.. this is not like they're short of money, or barely struggling to keep themselves afloat - this is pure profit, so this is purely to appease shareholders and improve their stock so that they can make MORE money.

No wonder our economies are going into the toilet with all these companies flaunting the tax rules. More shame on the governments for failing to close the loopholes!

Chicane-UK said,

Agreed. This is only harming the general population of the countries in which they work.. this is not like they're short of money, or barely struggling to keep themselves afloat - this is pure profit, so this is purely to appease shareholders and improve their stock so that they can make MORE money.

No wonder our economies are going into the toilet with all these companies flaunting the tax rules. More shame on the governments for failing to close the loopholes!

The governments have a SPENDING problem, not an income problem. And instead of fixing their spending problems, they choose to try to reap more money from companies in the form of higher and higher taxes. So, I applaud companies that take their jobs and money elsewhere. All these countries need to do to get them back is appreciate that the company has a positive economic impact in their country and that they do in fact want them there. For example, make the tax policy better for creating jobs.

M_Lyons10 said,

The governments have a SPENDING problem, not an income problem. And instead of fixing their spending problems, they choose to try to reap more money from companies in the form of higher and higher taxes. So, I applaud companies that take their jobs and money elsewhere. All these countries need to do to get them back is appreciate that the company has a positive economic impact in their country and that they do in fact want them there. For example, make the tax policy better for creating jobs.


governments always have a spending problem, deal with it.
usually, when times are decent, governments do not have issues spending their money. however, in recent years... many governments have.
And what turns out, many, many billions of USD and EUR are avoided by companies (large and small) because they are avoiding taxes.
If a company is struggling to stay afloat... meh.
But multi-billion cooperation's are doing it.
And even if its not illegal per se... A public uproar can do magic!

Google Netherlands is doing that too, and better yet, its the cooperate moneyflow headquarters of the EU. Shifting around billions to avoid taxes.
I'm always surprised that so many people don't give a damn.
If times are good for most of us, go ahead. Make money, do your thing. But that is not the case currently!
Our government has to forcefully lower its budget by about 2,5billion euro's.
When I hear that a company like Google alone avoided paying around 450million euro's in taxes.. that's 1/5th!
And there is many more where that came from from countless of other companies.
It wont save us. But everyone has to give in money, except the massive multi-billion cooperation's.

Fair much.

i agree
but why is this a problem if all other shady activity is ok too ?
America will implode at some point because of crap like this.
Makes me think of outsourcing that they all do
and just how many ships transport shipping containers of crap to the USA
non stop at an ever increasing pace. and as a Canadian we're kinda sucked into all of it the same way..
Why would you run your country dependent on Chinese shipping containers ?
What if China decided they wanted any debt paid in full and the USA didn't pay it and China put an embargo in place ? Then what ?
Wallmarts's store shelves would be empty and the "Wallmart Bank" would be in big trouble !
And yeah they have a real bank.. their in the list of official Bank's in my country.
When does Google get theirs ?
Some guy wrote a book called "the best way to rob a bank is to own one"
so true..

Colin McGregor said,
but Google isn't evil they obviously have a legitimate non evil reason to do this.

It's not the company's fault for there being a loophole. Seems pretty convenient for the legislators to pin it all on the company though. Big bad business when it should big incompetent government.

Xenosion said,

It's not the company's fault for there being a loophole. Seems pretty convenient for the legislators to pin it all on the company though. Big bad business when it should big incompetent government.

There is no loophole, what they are doing is illegal, you are not allowed to evade tax. They can get away with it because no one will stand up to a multi billion dollar company and try to argue against an army of lawyers. Common people pay taxes, so should big business their behaviour is in no way acceptable and something needs to be done.

ingramator said,

There is no loophole, what they are doing is illegal, you are not allowed to evade tax. They can get away with it because no one will stand up to a multi billion dollar company and try to argue against an army of lawyers. Common people pay taxes, so should big business their behaviour is in no way acceptable and something needs to be done.


If it is illegal, then it's still the government being incompetent in not doing something about it. The government doesn't need an army of lawyers if it's illegal so I really don't see your point.

ingramator said,
what they are doing is illegal

I'm not illegal. Many other greedy US companies including Apple and Microsoft do it in the UK because theres a loophole, so it's perfectly legal. And it's the same with some other countries.

But regardless if theres a stupid loophole or not, these companies shouldn't do it. Some have stopped in the past because of public outcry.

Xenosion said,

If it is illegal, then it's still the government being incompetent in not doing something about it. The government doesn't need an army of lawyers if it's illegal so I really don't see your point.

I don't think you quite understand politics and law or how law is enforced. Areas such as tax evasion are grey areas and so lawyers feed of this kind of thing. The army of lawyers come from the billion dollar companies not the government (I think you misread that), the state still has to prove the company is guilty and because there are so many others doing it they will play cards like "discrimination" and "unfair trial" which lead to the abolition of the case. Corporate taxation is a mess in a lot of countries and yes the government has to do something but they won't because all their mates that they went to school with at oxbridge will be pressuring them not to, among many other things. Technology companies (as well as other multinational businesses) have too much power and influence now so yes something has to be done but in an honest world these companies should stop thinking with their wallet. If they utilise communication, transport, healthcare, education just to name a few they can bloody well stump up and pay full tax like most other hard working honest people. It's kind of like saying there are hackable security scanners at the super market so I can just take what I want for free and then saying its the stores fault for not having adequate security scanners when in fact the thieves shouldn't be taking stuff anyway.

I can't believe people think they should just be able to get away with it because its technically "legal".
/End Rant

ingramator said,

There is no loophole, what they are doing is illegal, you are not allowed to evade tax.
WRONG. It IS legal, as there is (plenty of) loopholes that they are legally using in order to reduce their tax liability (one was detailed in the news - involves effectively funnelling money to an external company set up in another country - totally legal). If it was illegal, the UK government would be hammering them, but they can't, hence the shaming rhetoric. Fact is, the UK government need to rewrite the laws to reduce or eliminate these loopholes.

However, even though it is legal to do what these companies are doing, it is probably immoral for them to do so i.e. actively reducing the amount of tax liability while individual people are having to pay more taxes e.g. VAT going up recently.

What we have seen is a general dislike of any person or company actively reducing their tax liability, however legal. For instance, Jimmy Carr was using a particular scheme that saw him pay little tax. Although it was legal, the outcry was big enough for him to stop using the scheme. He had to, otherwise the backlash would have been great enough to make using the scheme not worth it (from reduced sales of his books, DVDs, appearance, etc.).

[quote=Xenosion said,]
It's not the company's fault for there being a loophole. Seems pretty convenient for the legislators to pin it all on the company though. Big bad business when it should big incompetent government.[/quote

Exactly. And if the government wanted this money to be in their country, all they have to do is have more reasonable tax policy... But instead, they are intent to view companies as the golden goose...

testman said,
WRONG. It IS legal

Wrong. It is illegal to dodge tax, no matter what. What these companies are doing is operating under countries like bermuda which don't play ball with tax law. This is the shelling. If they were to move the money into Germany, they'd have to pay up, surprise surprise, they don't move the money into Germany.

The areas of what is avoiding and evading are what's screwing everything up. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T..._tax_evasion#United_Kingdom Please become a bit more familiar with UK law then go ahead and read a whole lot about taxation law. It is illegal but difficult if not impossible to prove as illegal that's the good but also the problem with our political systems, you have to prove things.

ingramator said,

I don't think you quite understand politics and law or how law is enforced. Areas such as tax evasion are grey areas and so lawyers feed of this kind of thing. The army of lawyers come from the billion dollar companies not the government (I think you misread that), the state still has to prove the company is guilty and because there are so many others doing it they will play cards like "discrimination" and "unfair trial" which lead to the abolition of the case. Corporate taxation is a mess in a lot of countries and yes the government has to do something but they won't because all their mates that they went to school with at oxbridge will be pressuring them not to, among many other things. Technology companies (as well as other multinational businesses) have too much power and influence now so yes something has to be done but in an honest world these companies should stop thinking with their wallet. If they utilise communication, transport, healthcare, education just to name a few they can bloody well stump up and pay full tax like most other hard working honest people. It's kind of like saying there are hackable security scanners at the super market so I can just take what I want for free and then saying its the stores fault for not having adequate security scanners when in fact the thieves shouldn't be taking stuff anyway.

I can't believe people think they should just be able to get away with it because its technically "legal".
/End Rant


You misunderstand the act of redirecting blame as defending. You said it yourself: it's a grey area. Why should anyone assume a company is going to pay taxes that it doesn't necessarily have to? The corporate world doesn't operate like that. It's foolish to believe they would. Capitalism isn't perfect. It needs socialist policies for it to benefit everyone and that is where the government fails the people.

Xenosion said,

You misunderstand the act of redirecting blame as defending. You said it yourself: it's a grey area. Why should anyone assume a company is going to pay taxes that it doesn't necessarily have to? The corporate world doesn't operate like. It's foolish to believe they would. Capitalism isn't perfect. It needs socialist policies for it to benefit everyone and that is where the government fails the people.

OK since you won't accept the fact that it's law, then why does anyone pay tax?

Taxing SHOULD NOT work by location of some building / office.

Taxing SHOULD work by determining the % of profit the company generates in a certain nation. That is if 80% profit is from USA, then the company should have 80% of tax from USA.

Obviously the above will never happen due to widespread corruption.

ingramator said,

OK since you won't accept the fact that it's law, then why does anyone pay tax?


It's not all or nothing and Google isn't a person. Are you sure *you* understand that difference? Google and any other big business pays the taxes it's required to by law. Every time a company is made an example of my media, they all say the same thing as Google did here in the second to last paragraph.

Wealthy individuals do the exact same thing with the cliche "Swiss bank accounts" etc. They avoid paying taxes on all their wealth and it's legal because it's not explicitly illegal to do so.

ingramator said,

Wrong. It is illegal to dodge tax, no matter what. What these companies are doing is operating under countries like bermuda which don't play ball with tax law. This is the shelling. If they were to move the money into Germany, they'd have to pay up, surprise surprise, they don't move the money into Germany.

The areas of what is avoiding and evading are what's screwing everything up. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T..._tax_evasion#United_Kingdom Please become a bit more familiar with UK law then go ahead and read a whole lot about taxation law. It is illegal but difficult if not impossible to prove as illegal that's the good but also the problem with our political systems, you have to prove things.

WRONG. It is NOT illegal to avoid tax, it is illegal to evade tax. Read that link you posted - it says there. Reducing your tax liability isn't illegal at all. Even if it's against the spirit of legislation (which will get changed if that is the case), it's unlikely to result in prosecution unless it was 100% proved and it rarely is.

I'm not saying it's OK though, but instead of coming up with knee-jerk comments as "It's all illegal", I try to understand it.

Xenosion said,

It's not all or nothing and Google isn't a person. Are you sure *you* understand that difference? Google and any other big business pays the taxes it's required to by law. Every time a company is made an example of my media, they all say the same thing as Google did here in the second to last paragraph.

Wealthy individuals do the exact same thing with the cliche "Swiss bank accounts" etc. They avoid paying taxes on all their wealth and it's legal because it's not explicitly illegal to do so.

Exactly. Methinks ingramator hasn't a clue. No one is saying this sort of thing is right, merely that it isn't illegal.

ingramator said,

There is no loophole, what they are doing is illegal

False. But it's up to the governments to legislate on this rather than spout faux outrage about companies taking full advantage of tax regimes that *they* created.

testman said,
Exactly. Methinks ingramator hasn't a clue. No one is saying this sort of thing is right, merely that it isn't illegal.

I'm not sure why everyone is having problems understanding ingramator really. What he is saying isn't off the mark here. It is illegal, but the hands of the government are bound in actually being able to prove it. Tax evasion, moving your income out of the country to avoid taxes, is illegal and has been for a very long time. Increased policing of this in the personal arena is why it is now extremely hard for Americans to get bank accounts outside of the US[1].

Companies like Google get away with it easier because they cleverly mask their shell companies in such a way that it makes it very hard for the government to build a case against them. For instance, moving all of their equipment ownership (or buildings, patents, etc.) to the shell company and then "leasing" it all back.

These companies know it is illegal and they would face taxes on any of the money the bring back into the US (and probably other countries too) which is why they have huge cash hordes outside of the US[2].

What they are doing isn't legal, but it is very hard to prosecute so the government is handicapped...

[1]: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/...tax-evasion-rule-looms.html
[2]: http://blogs.wsj.com/cfo/2012/...ompanies-cash-poor-at-home/

Xenosion said,

It's not the company's fault for there being a loophole. Seems pretty convenient for the legislators to pin it all on the company though. Big bad business when it should big incompetent government.

Unlocked door => You are now excused if you trespass!

Sorry, but your logic sucks.

Northgrove said,

Unlocked door => You are now excused if you trespass!

Sorry, but your logic sucks.

ya kinda like the bailouts a while back..
if they take the american tax payers money to the casino they will get bailed out and they know it but if i did i would get a laughed at and thrown out the window.
that whole issue showed just extreme the corruption is in the states.
reaching as high as the president going back a dozen terms at least.
so something like this isn't a big deal to politicians why ?
They are getting their cut .
Otherwise Google would be crucified so fast they wouldn't what hit them !

I wish i could dodge paying my tax's ..must be nice lol