Nations say tax laws hurt EU tech firms
PARIS — France is working with Germany and other partners to change laws that have allowed U.S. tech giants Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon to minimize taxes and grab market share in Europe at the expense of the continent’s own companies. France will propose the “simpler rules” for a “real taxation” of tech firms at a meeting of European Union officials due mid-September in Tallinn, Estonia, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said in an interview in his Paris office on Friday, complaining that Europe-wide initiatives are proving too slow. “Europe must learn to defend its economic interest much more firmly — China does it, the U.S. does it,” Le Maire said. “You cannot take the benefit of doing business in France or in Europe without paying the taxes that other companies — French or European companies — are paying.” The push reflects mounting frustration among some governments, regulators and voters at the way international firms sidestep taxes by shifting profits and costs to wherever they are taxed most advantageously — exploiting laws or special deals granted by friendly states. Germany and France discussed tax issues at a joint Cabinet meeting last month, and Germany can be expected to discuss specific proposals after its national election on Sept. 24, Denis Kolberg, a finance ministry spokesman, told reporters in Berlin on Monday.