Bruno Le Maire, France’s economy minister, announced today (Dec. 17) that he wants France to start taxing big tech giants beginning Jan. 1, 2019, according to a report.
The idea comes after years of negotiations at the European level, where France and other larger European countries have tried and so far failed to convince smaller countries that tech companies have been taking advantage of the region’s tax structure. He pushed for an EU-wide digital tax for the end of 2018.
“We want the adoption of the directive on digital taxation by the end of this year. This is a clear red line for the French government,” Le Maire told reporters in Brussels in November, as he prepared to discuss the issue with his European counterparts. “We are aware there are some technical issues … but these are technical concerns, not political problems, so we still have three or four weeks before the next Ecofin (a regular meeting between EU finance ministers) to fix those technical issues.”
Because of that stalled endeavor, France has apparently taken the issue into its own hands. An EU tax referendum would require a unanimous vote from all members, and the union’s smaller countries don’t support the issue yet.
Le Maire has decided that he’s going to tax the companies – like Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple – in France instead of waiting for the EU support. He expects the new tax revenue could be up to $565 million in 2019.
Many tech companies report low profits in Europe because they wire the money to more tax-friendly countries, according to reports. As to how the new tax will operate, those issues have yet to be worked out, but Le Maire said he’ll look into advertising, marketing and personal data revenue.