German Finance Minister and Vice-Chancellor Olaf Scholz has accused tech companies of not paying their fair share of taxes, as Google, Amazon and Facebook face increased scrutiny in the EU on the matter.
“My biggest concern with the tech companies is that they tend to pay taxes nowhere,” Scholz said during an interview with CNBC earlier this week.
In recent months, some countries have targeted the digital giants, stressing that the firms’ revenues should be subject to fairer taxation. The corporations have been accused of trying to route some of their profits to low-tax member states, while benefiting from all European countries’ economies, especially through advertising.
While countries have been unilaterally introducing levies on big tech corporations one by one, Scholz called for “a global agreement” on the matter, adding that “this would help a lot.”
France has been leading calls for the problem to be addressed, and did not wait for the rest of the EU to introduce measures. Paris applied a new levy known as GAFA tax (named after Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon) earlier this year and hopes it will raise up to €500 million ($568.3 million) annually. The country has also said that an extra tax of three percent will be applied to the revenues of at least 30 corporations – not only American ones, but also Chinese, German, Spanish and British.
Meanwhile, Austria is considering similar measures, and its government has recently proposed a five percent tax on the advertising revenues of global tech giants. The proposed levy is higher than its French counterpart, but the government has explained that it is seeking to get compensation for the years that internet giants avoided fair taxation.
The UK, which is going to leave the bloc, has floated a similar idea, while slamming “painfully slow” progress on the international agreement on corporate tax reform. Chancellor Philip Hammond said that the measure, set to come into force in April 2020, will raise £400 million ($523 million) annually.
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