Austria in bid to tax Google, Facebook
VIENNA: Austria is seeking ways to make digital services like Alphabet Inc’s Google or Facebook Inc pay taxes for transactions with the nation’s Internet users, trying to plug gaps in a tax system still designed for brick-andmortar business.
The most ambitious part of the plan targets the business models of Twitter Inc, Google or Facebook: The tacit pact under which searching, liking, posting and tweeting remains free as long as users let the companies feed usage data into algorithms that help tailor advertising that can be aimed at the most likely buyers.
That arrangement was a form of bartering, and a value-added tax could be imposed on such transactions just as the levies were extended in other parts of the economy, said Andreas Schieder, the parliamentary head of Austrian chancellor Christian Kern’s Social Democrats.
“The business transaction going on here is that users are paying with their personal data,” he said.
Raising more taxes from digital businesses was part of a broader plan to amend the country’s corporate tax code.
The package included closing loopholes that allow “aggressive tax planning” and corporate tax avoidance, which cost the Alpine country as much as €1.5 billion (RM7 billion) a year, about a fifth of its annual corporate tax revenue, said Schieder.
In Sydney, Google said it would challenge amended tax assessments issued by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), which was trying to claw back billions of dollars from multinational corporations citing unpaid taxes.
In December, ATO said it was pursuing seven global businesses over A$2 billion (RM6.5 billion) in unpaid tax. Agencies
Google plans to challenge amended tax assessments in Australia.