Will Big Tech face bigger tax bills on an international stage?
Beyond the debates on data privacy and compliance, marquee names in technology face greater scrutiny from various governments, and perhaps bigger tax bills, too.
In India, the Central Board of Direct Taxes, is looking at ways to bring new taxes to bear on companies such as Google, Amazon and Facebook, among others, according to timesnownews.com. The site reported that tax policymakers will hold meetings in September at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. At least one unnamed official has been quoted as stating that “all countries are trying to find a consensus on major tech companies.”
In other news regarding tax policy, in Egypt, the government, as reported by menabytes.com, is “close” to issuing new income tax regulations, in draft form, that would tax advertisements posted online across platforms and social media sites.
As reported, the tax imposed could be as much as 20 percent on social media and search ads. The tax would reportedly be levied on the total cost of the ads.
In Kenya, the country’s revenue authority has said it will seek to introduce a digital tax on products and services that are delivered across digital platforms, through a Value Added Tax. The new digital tax may also apply to what are known as Over the Top (OTT) Services and streaming services, as reported by gadgets-africa.com.
Of course, beyond taxes, tech firms are under regulatory microscopes in other ways. The Wall Street Journal and other sites reported that a group of some 20 states, bipartisan in nature and led by state attorneys general, may launch a probe this fall into whether larger companies are using their dominance to thwart competition. Any joint effort by state AGs would come on top of efforts by the Justice Department, which said earlier this summer that it had an antitrust review in place, examining Facebook and Google. The state AGs, according to the WSJ report, would examine the business practices of Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple. And of course, the Federal Trade Commission is also examining antitrust issues that might surround Facebook and its acquisition of smaller tech companies.
Looking at Clouds
Cloud services may be in for more stringent oversight in the coming months. As reported last week, Democratic House Representatives Katie Porter and Nydia Velázquez have requested that the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) look into how cloud services are provided. The request covers Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure, and together those services are a bit more than half the market.
“Cloud services have become an essential element of our modern banking system and should be overseen commensurately,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter last week. “Cloud services are not currently subject to an appropriate and enforced regulatory regime.”
In Australia, the country’s securities and investments commission (or ASIC) is reportedly “weeks away” from filing lawsuits against some of the biggest banks in the country. The agency is also reportedly staffing up its analyst, investigator and legal teams as they ensure, according to a report, that the ASIC has the ability to investigate the banks and “where necessary, litigate against, market, corporate and financial sector misconduct.”
The moves come after the financial firms face audits in the wake of findings that the banks had used deceptive tactics that charged additional fees but did not provide enhanced services.