“Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple – or ‘GAFA,’ as they’re known in France – are easy to group together in the European imagination. They’re big, they’re American and they’ve tended to pay relatively little tax, thanks to legal loopholes and a business model that exists largely in the virtual world,” Lionel Laurent writes for Bloomberg Opinion. “Rather than wait for international rules to catch up, France and a few others are embracing the tech sector equivalent of a financial transactions tax (a generic name for levies on transactions such as sales and purchases). It’s a messy idea, but politically it makes the right noises.”
“Nothing about France’s so-called ‘GAFA tax’ will please those who favor simple and lucrative approaches to raising revenue for governments,” Laurent writes. “Inspired by an EU proposal that failed to get unanimous backing from the bloc’s 28 member states, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire’s proposal aims to hit companies making more than 750 million euros ($850 million) in global online revenues with what amounts to a 3 percent tax on their gross digital sales in France.”
“It’s hard to see how this will help much, if you judge things purely on their economic usefulness. It will hit firms equally regardless of their profitability, its cost may end up being passed on to consumers, and there’s a basic difficulty in tracking and policing digital revenues in an individual country,” Laurent writes. “France estimates the tax will raise a measly 500 million euros – broadly the same amount brought in by the country’s financial transactions tax in 2017. It’s a digital drop in the ocean of France’s approximately 80 billion euro deficit.”
Read more in the full article here.
MacDailyNews Take: Laurent thinks there’s a chance that Apple et al. will fight these taxes in court, but that the smart approach would be for the tech companies to lobby for harmonized EU taxation for stability and predictability. We concur.
Apple agrees to pay back-dated taxes to France – February 5, 2019