A bitter failure. After eighteen months of discussions and negotiations, Bruno Le Maire, the Minister of the Economy, admitted that there will be no European agreement on the creation of a tax on digital giants. A disagreement that will be sealed on March 12, during a meeting of finance ministers in Brussels, linked in particular to the waltz-hesitation of the Germans who first supported the initiative before abandoning the French in the open. And the many very offensive speeches of the French minister will have no effect. In Sofia, during an Ecofin in May 2018, he expressed his “cold anger” to his colleagues: “If you want to go to the European elections with the message ‘we talked a lot, debated a lot, but made no decision’: good luck !”. Here we are: a little over two months before the Europeans, the 27 have revealed their powerlessness on the tax subject.
A 3% tax on large digital companies
So Bruno Le Maire will fire his last cartridge, on March 6, by presenting his bill to the Council of Ministers creating a French tax on digital companies. It is following in the footsteps of Spain and the United Kingdom, which have announced similar plans. It essentially takes up the architecture of the European directive which was the subject of fruitless discussions. The turnover of companies with global digital activity of more than 750 million euros and 25 million in France will be taxed at 3%. A levy that should bring in 500 million euros this year, targeting advertising revenue from Google and Facebook and digital platforms like Amazon, which connect customers and producers. Conversely, groups like Darty which sell their products on the Internet will not be affected, according to the Minister of the Economy. And thanks to the tax threshold, our start-ups would be spared. Only one French group would be affected: Criteo.
Taxing turnover is not efficient
Faced with the massive relocation of tech giants to tax havens, the French tax has the merit of existing. But many experts criticize it: “It is simplistic, applying to turnover. It risks taxing certain companies twice, on profits and on activity,” said Vincent Renoux, lawyer at the firm Stehlin & Associates