France plans to slap a 3 percent revenue tax on 30 Internet giants, including Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple, starting in January, according to Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire on Sunday.
Declaring the digital tax as “fiscal justice,” Le Maire told Le Parisien newspaper that potentially $570 million could be raised for France. Any company with global revenue of more than $853 millon and French sales above $28 million would be taxed 3 percent of revenue.
The cabinet will discuss the proposal Wednesday before it is presented to parliament.
“A taxation system for the 21st century has to built on what has value today, and that is data,” Le Maire said.
He noted the digital giants pay about 14 percentage points less tax than European small- and medium sized companies.
“They pour their products onto markets without even paying value-added tax, and hardly any other tax at all, it is intolerable. On the same turnover they should pay the same tax,” Le Maire said.
The tax would target platform companies that put companies in touch with customers and earn a commission. That includes companies such as Amazon that earn revenue as a digital intermediary between a producer and a client. In addition, the tax would target the sales of personal data for advertising purposes.
They include Uber, Airbnb, Booking and French online advertising specialist Criteo as targets.
Le Maire said companies selling their products on their own websites would not be targeted, such as French retailer Darty’s TVs and washing machines.
Among companies that already pay taxes in France, the amount paid will be deductible from pretax income, Le Maire said.
‘Yellow vest” protesters have sought fairer taxes.
Elsewhere, Spain and the Britain also considering digital sales taxes.
“We forget a simple thing: the European single market is the world’s largest trading market,” Le Maire said. “For all these big digital companies, European consumers are decisive. The fact that rich, powerful nations are engaging in digital taxation is driving the OECD countries to move. This is the case with the United States.”
The United States and France have a tax treaty.
“I talked about this national taxation to my American counterpart Steven Mnuchin when he came to Paris,” he said. “Let us be clear: the United States does not like these different national taxes in Europe. But they understood that it was essential to accelerate the work within the OECD [Organization of developed countries.] This is where we can find a political agreement to redefine the tax system. As soon as there is an agreement within the OECD, these new international tax rules will take the place of our French tax.”.