Summarizing a report issued by the French government last week the New York Times says that France is considering a range of creative taxation schemes on US based Internet companies — Google and Facebook in particular. France is trying to generate new revenues amid a challenging economic climate in Europe.
Google and Facebook are seen by many European governments as “deep pockets.” There’s also a punitive quality to the various taxation proposals as well.
France (among others) has been frustrated by what it sees as domestic tax avoidance by large Internet companies. It is seeking to collect what it calls “back taxes” from Google.
Among the various proposals being floated, the government of French President François Hollande may seek a tax on “personal data collection” by Google, Facebook and others:
The report published Friday said a tax on data collection was justified on grounds that users of services like Google and Facebook are, in effect, working for these companies without pay by providing the personal information that lets them sell advertising.
The report says tax rates would be based on the number of users an Internet firm tracked, to be verified by outside auditors. The authors did not recommend tax rates or estimate how much money such a levy could raise.
Google told the Times that it was studying the report but generally indicated opposition to any taxation on data and Internet usage. The report apparently didn’t indicate how the tax might be structured. It’s also not clear how much revenue could be generated by any such “personal data collection” tax.