Austria’s Finance Minister Hartwig Loeger told reporters that “Austria will press ahead with a proposed tax on internet giants after plans for a European Union-wide levy fell through this week.”

In January Austria had threatened they were going to impose a digital ad tax on tech companies such as Google, Facebook, and Amazon worth three percent of their advertising revenue, but that they delayed the plan in the hopes that the European Union would agree to a European-wide digital tax. This past week EU ministers gave up that plan as there was no consensus on the idea.

In his announcement, Minister Loeger said:

Rather than submit legislation to parliament immediately, however, the government will first hold meetings of experts including representatives of Austria’s print and broadcast media, the advertising industry and the finance ministry to discuss the plans in coming weeks.


It is also possible that an existing 5 percent tax on advertising revenue for traditional print and broadcast media will be lowered to 3 percent.

The minister claims that the plan is about ‘fairness.’ The minister appears to have a warped sense of fairness though, as no other industry is being targeted for double taxation as is the case with American tech companies.

Austria should heed Senator Chuck Grassley’s recent comments on digital taxation:

These countries should immediately cease any unilateral actions that target U.S.-based multinationals and instead focus their energy and efforts on the multilateral solutions that are being developed by the global community at the OECD.

OECD members for years have recognized the tax challenges surrounding the so-called “digitalization of the economy.”

And I encourage nations around the world to participate and allow this process to play out. The alternative is not acceptable: discriminatory, unilateral actions, double taxation and potentially negative trade implications. No good outcomes for countries that impose the taxes. No good outcomes for the countries whose companies are the subject of the tax—mainly, the United States.