EU ‘Prepared’ To Push Ahead With Digital Tax

Image credit: European Commission

If global plans fail to move ahead, new Commissioner for Economic Affairs Paolo Gentiloni says he will propose EU-wide tax targeting tech giants

The European Commission is planning to propose an EU-wide tax on online services if negotiations to do so on a global level fail to make progress, the newly designated Commissioner for Economic Affairs Paolo Gentiloni was quoted as saying on Monday.

Gentiloni, a former prime minister of Italy, told La Stampa he would first seek to introduce a “web tax” via global organisations such as the OECD and the G20, as such an initiative would be “the most effective solution”.

But if no accord is reached by next year he said he would propose a European tax.

“We’re not prepared to wait,” Gentiloni told the paper.

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He said he would also work on harmonising corporate taxes across EU member states and reviewing energy taxation regulations.

Such a tax has been debated for years in Europe amidst public anger at the relatively low taxes paid by tech giants such as Amazon, Google and Facebook.

After plans to bring in an EU-wide digital tax foundered late last year, France brought in a digital tax of its own, causing the US to threaten increased taxes on French imports.

The UK and Germany have also said they could press ahead with digital taxes in the absence of an initiative at the EU or a global level.

Last week Google agreed to pay French authorities nearly 1 billion euros (£890m) to settle a fiscal fraud probe that began four years ago.

France had been looking into whether whether Google avoided paying its dues to the French state by failing to declare parts of its activities in the country.

The settlement comprises a fine of 500m euros and additional taxes of 465m euros, Google said.

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