France and Germany are looking to stop tech companies like Apple from exploiting tax loopholes in their respective countries. The loopholes are said to have allowed Apple to "minimize taxes and grab market share" at the expense of Europe-based companies.
France will draft and propose a list of "simpler rules" that will be aimed at creating a "real taxation" law for non-European companies, which also include Amazon and Facebook (via Bloomberg).
The new rules will be looked at in September during a meeting of European Union officials, which French finance minister Bruno Le Maire hopes will help speed up Europe-wide initiatives related to properly taxing international companies. Germany is said to be looking into similar proposals following its national election on September 24.
French President Emmanuel Macron is one of the leaders behind the tax crackdown on international tech companies, with a goal of bringing a more unified corporate tax system across the nineteen euro area states.
The clampdown on tech firms is part of President Emmanuel Macron’s muscular approach to ensuring a level playing field, after seeing first hand during his election campaign how French firms struggle to compete with countries where taxes and social security payments are lower.
“Europe must learn to defend its economic interest much more firmly -- China does it, the U.S. does it,” French Finance Minister Bruno 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.”
In similar news, last year the European Commission ruled that Apple received illegal state aid from Ireland and ordered the company to pay $14.5 billion in back taxes. Apple admitted that it expects the case to continue for several years, and eventually appealed the decision in December of 2016 by arguing the European Commission made "fundamental errors" in its ruling.
If the new crackdown on tax loopholes goes into effect, Apple could potentially face more tax avoidance charges, which company CEO Tim Cook called "total political crap" in the wake of the Ireland-related ruling. In an open letter around the same time, Cook said that Apple has become "the largest taxpayer in the world," stating that the company "follows the law and we pay all the taxes we owe." He called the European Commission's ruling an "effort to rewrite Apple's history in Europe," and said that any claim that Ireland gave Apple a "special deal" on taxes "has no basis in fact or in law."
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