France now wants to tax USER GENERATED CONTENT (yesterday it was Google)

18 Jan, 2013



France is really determined to get its slice of the pie from big US internet companies. Monday, François Hollande says he will push a Google Tax if Google doesn’t reach an agreement with French publishers.

Today, two high ranking French bureaucrats are expected to publish their report about so called “fiscalité numérique”, or a tax on digital activities.

France is irked by the fact that the web giants like Google, Facebook, Amazon and Ebay make huge profits, but that they can’t tax them. Reasons: web activities are constantly evolving, say the bureaucrats, which makes it difficult to tax. Also, internet companies “systematically dissociate their registered offices from their operations”, choosing fiscally friendly countries to base their operations and transfer their profits to these tax havens.

But France thinks it has found something to tax: the data – the “primary resource” of internet companies and its driver of profits, according to the French bureaucrats.

They will attack the multinationals in France, but also internationally: the authors of the report suggest lobbying the OECD to change its notions of “stable operations” to include the “free work” that users do for a company by “supplying them with data”.

If I interpret this correctly, it’s not only the user data (like name, e-mail address) that’s envisioned, but also more broadly  any user generated content can now be considered to be an enterprise function that can be taxed. It’s… elegant.

The OECD is, according to Les Echos, already looking at different ways to tax multinationals.

What do you think?

Via Les Echos, photo: Larry Page, Robert Scoble

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About the author

Raf Weverbergh

Editor of whiteboard. Raf Weverbergh was a magazine journalist whose work appeared in magazines like Rolling Stone, Playboy, Mail on Sunday, Publico and South China Morning Post. He is the co-founder of FINN, a corporate communications agency where he advises startups and multinationals on their PR and Mustr, the easiest media database for PR professionals. You can contact him on Twitter, Linkedin or Skype (rafweverbergh).

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