Andreas Hellmann

France Proceeds With Discriminatory Digital Tax On American Companies

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Posted by Andreas Hellmann on Tuesday, May 19th, 2020, 10:35 AM PERMALINK

France is pushing ahead with its digital tax. An effort to impose a discriminatory levy on American companies like Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon.  Despite an earlier agreement between French President Macron and U.S. President Trump to hold off on unilateral actions and wait for an international tax reform effort to find a solution.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said to Reuters:
"Never has a digital tax been more legitimate and more necessary. In any case, France will apply as it has always indicated a tax on digital giants in 2020 either in an international form if there is a deal or in a national form if there is no deal."

France tries to blame the coronavirus outbreak for its surprising move to abandon the agreement with the U.S. reached earlier.  However, Bruno Le Maire is wrong: Now is not the time to impose a discriminatory tax on digital companies, especially as people are staying at home and are relying on digital innovation and products more than ever. 
A U.S. retaliation will be strong, badly hurt the already tanking French economy, and greatly damage the transatlantic relationship. 

Initially, the so-called GAFA tax ( Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon) was proposed in December of 2018 and would apply 3% on revenue generated by digital companies in France. 

Photo Credit: OECD

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List: International Tax Cuts & Emergency Plans Due to COVID19 Outbreak

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Posted by Andreas Hellmann on Wednesday, March 18th, 2020, 3:38 PM PERMALINK

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak many countries around the world are enacting tax cuts and emergency plans to support their struggling economies. 

Below is a list of examples of emergency tax cuts, plans, and suspensions from all over the world. We will be continuously updating this collection.  If you have another example to add, please send it to  

You can also find a list of how the US is suspending Rules and Regulations due to COVID-19 here

Emergency Tax Cuts and Plans list:

Italy enacts tax relief to cushion Coronavirus emergency

Italy’s Economy Minister, Roberto Gualtieri, announced that the government will adopt measures costing EUR 3.6 billion (USD 4 billion) to help the economy. Specifically, a tax credit will be granted to companies that suffer a 25% fall in revenues. Additional funds are also provided to Italy’s health service.

Indeed, the decree provides, among other measures, to increase the guarantee fund for small and medium businesses with a priority, for 12 months, to grant a credit to businesses operating in red zones, encompassing the agri-food sector. - MNE Tax (03/02/2020)

Japan – Extended Tax Filing Deadline, Other Government Steps Due to COVID-19

The National Tax Agency has released the announcement that filing and payment due dates for individual income tax, individual consumption tax, and gift tax for 2019 will be extended by one month to April 16, 2020 due to the spread of Covid-19. - KPMG (03/02/2020)

Greece Moves to Help Business in Coronavirus Affected Areas

Greece will suspend for four months the payment of sales tax amounts that were to due to be paid by the end of March, Finance Minister Christos Staikouras announces in Athens. Suspension also for four months of payment of outstanding debt obligations. Next week’s Eurogroup meeting must immediately take concrete initiatives to tackle the negative effects of the virus on growth and public finances - BloombergTax (03/09/2020)

Germany Moves to Slow Virus With Empty Stadiums, Furlough Pay

Merkel’s coalition to invest 12.4 billion euros until 2024. Aid for furloughed workers to be expanded until end of 2020. Should Germany enter a serious crisis, its response would dwarf a proposed cut in the so-called solidarity tax by 5 billion euros ($5.7 billion) this year, Scholz told RND newspaper consortium.- BloombergTax (03/09/2020)

Denmark Grants $20 Billion in Tax Breaks to Firms Hit by Virus

Denmark’s government will grant tax breaks to businesses affected by the coronavirus as part of a series of measures worth $20 billion. - BloombergTax (03/10/2020)

Thai Cabinet Approves Phase One of Covid-19 Stimulus Package

The package includes 180b baht ($5.7b) of soft loans from Government Savings Bank and the Social Security Fund, Finance Minister Uttama Savanayana says in a briefing in Bangkok. 
- A cut in the withholding tax to 1.5% from 3% during April to September
- Doubling the tax benefit for investment in long-term mutual funds -- so-called super savings funds to 400,000 baht.
- BloombergTax (03/10/2020)

UK Government announced tax deferral measures

The government announced tax deferral measures and freezes on business property taxes for retail, leisure, and tourism to reduce the economic impact of the coronavirus.

The budget also contained promises to: Keep the corporate tax rate at 19%. Reduce the lifetime limit of entrepreneurs’ relief—which allows business founders to pay 10% capital gains tax, less than the usual rate, when they sell their businesses. Freeze fuel duty for the 10th consecutive year. Get rid of value-added tax on digital reading materials and female sanitary products. Freeze all alcohol duties. Make it easier to access tax-free child care.- BloombergTax (03/11/2020)


Indonesia Eases Tax for Individuals, Cos to Counter Virus Impact

Government will waive income tax for individuals for six months as it seeks to boost purchasing power and counter an economic slowdown worsened by the coronavirus outbreak. - BloombergTax (03/11/2020)

Coronavirus: Macron announces drastic measures in France

When it comes to employees, the French leader announced the implementation of an “exceptional and massive mechanism of partial unemployment”. For companies, it will be possible to postpone “without justification, without formality, without penalty [the] payment of contributions and taxes due in March."- Euractiv (03/13/2020)

Spain closes tax office on coronavirus epidemic

Spain has announced VAT and other tax payment holiday for small businesses who apply for relief for the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak. The scheme is not available for large businesses (above €6m turnover) or if the Value Added Tax due is above €30m. - Avalara (03/15/2020)

UK Extends Property Tax Relief for a Year to Virus-Hit Sectors

The UK government is extending business property tax waivers to all companies in the retail, hospitality, and leisure industries as part of a multi-billion pound rescue package for businesses affected by coronavirus. - Bloomberg (03/17/2020)

Norway may cut 12% reduced VAT rate to 8%

The Norwegian government is said to be considering a cut to the 12% reduced VAT rate to 8% for the duration of the coronavirus crisis. The rate applies to cinema admission, public transport, hotel accommodation services, entrance to cinemas, museums and amusement parks. - Avalara (03/17/2020)

Belgium delays VAT filings & payments on coronavirus worries

The Belgian authorities have confirmed that they will allow companies to delay the filings by over two weeks and payments by two months. It had already offered an application process for companies needing delays due to COVID-19 outbreak. - Avalara (03/18/2020)

Netherlands COVID-19 VAT reliefs

The Dutch tax agency has published details of a range of Value Added Tax easements for businesses during the coronavirus epidemic. Other taxes will have similar easements. Dutch VAT easements include:Businesses may apply for delayed VAT payments if they can show hardship as a result of the crisis. The tax office may cancel any penalties or interest for any late payments. This is done as soon as the application is received. Late penalty interest will be reduced from 4% to 0.01% from 1 June if found delay not related to crisis. Open VAT assessments will be amended if it appears VAT should be less due to the pandemic. Extra VAT relief on customer bad debts will be granted if related to crisis. - Avalara (03/18/2020)

Photo Credit: Riley Kaminer

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UK Digital Services Tax Purposefully Targets US Companies

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Posted by Andreas Hellmann on Thursday, March 12th, 2020, 5:15 PM PERMALINK

The UK Treasury announced in its budget report that it is going to impose a 2% Digital Services Tax on British revenues of American companies starting in April.  

This tax will result in double taxation, less innovation, negative economic growth, and will lead to higher costs for British businesses and price hikes for British consumers.

The design of the British tax is very similar to the French, and other unilateral European Digital Services Taxes. It will levy an estimated £2 billion and will be imposed on companies with at least £500 million in global revenue and £25 million in UK revenue. This tax is discriminatory as it is exclusively targeting American companies like Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple. 

This launch comes as a surprise as the UK is preparing to negotiate a post-Brexit trade deal with the United States. After fierce opposition from the Trump administration, many European countries are backing down from their Digital Services Tax efforts to avoid a trade war and instead wait for an international solution through the OECD negotiations. 

The Trump administration should make this a deal-breaker during the upcoming trade negotiations with the UK.   

Photo Credit: UK Parliament

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Czech Republic Expected To Reduce Digital Tax Under U.S. Pressure

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Posted by Andreas Hellmann on Thursday, February 27th, 2020, 2:32 PM PERMALINK

With a 7% Digital Services Tax (DST), the Czech Republic plans to impose the highest DST on American companies in the European Union. Under pressure from the Trump Administration, the Czech government is now expected to reduce the tax significantly or even postponing it to a later date.

Per Bloomberg reporting Czech Finance Minister Alena Schillerova said: "I asked the prime minister to schedule a debate at the coalition council about a potential change of the rate from the current 7% to 5%." She also mentioned that postponing the date when the tax comes into effect would also be an option. 

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis backed the French push for an EU-wide levy from the beginning, quickly proposed a Czech Digital Tax after the European proposal did not reach unanimous support and failed. 

This move from the Czech government shows that President Trump's strategy to put pressure on countries that impose discriminatory taxes on American companies works, especially after French President Macron has recently folded on his Digital Services Tax plans. 

Now it is of the utmost importance that the Trump administration further steps up its opposition as Digital Taxes in Austria, Italy, and Turkey are about to be implemented next month. 

Photo Credit: Chambre des Députés

Digital Taxes Target American Companies Around the World

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Posted by Andreas Hellmann on Monday, February 24th, 2020, 2:36 PM PERMALINK

France has been in the headlines in recent weeks due to its Digital Services Tax (DST) that mainly hits American companies such as Google, Amazon, and Facebook. Though the US and France agreed to a ceasefire on the DST last month, internationally, Pandora’s box is still wide open.

France isn’t the only country that has chosen to impose or signaled its intention to impose a DST. After the European Union scrapped its plans for an EU-wide DST, 19 countries have decided to take unilateral action in what will ultimately end in a complex web of varying tax rates and applicability requirements. As the maps show, countries around the world, have either implemented or plan to implement a DST on their own instead of waiting for an international consensus.

You can find the map of the global digital tax landscape here

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Czech Republic Introduces Digital Tax on American Tech Companies

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Posted by Andreas Hellmann on Friday, September 13th, 2019, 5:42 PM PERMALINK

The Czech Republic joins a growing number of European countries that are imposing a harmful digital services tax on American tech companies. The Czech Ministry of Finance has drafted a law introducing a 7 % digital tax on revenue from online advertising, the sale of user data, and inter-mediation services, following the European Commission’s similar proposal from 2018. 

The Czech government expects the levy to be introduced in mid-2020 and estimates the tax will generate CZK 2.1billion ($90 million)  in additional revenue in 2020, and CZK 5 billion ($215 million) annually after that.
The tax hits companies with global turnover higher than 750 million euro annually and with sales within the Czech Republic over 1.9million euro.
Finance Minister Alena Schillerova is following the French approach saying that the tax will apply until global tax measures are agreed at the OECD level. 

Make no mistake that the Czech digital tax is discriminatory. By using revenue as a proxy for nationality, the Czech Republic is looking to pillage the accounts of American tech companies in order to get their “fair share” of tax. While the OECD is working to develop a global consensus on the issue, the Czech have decided to go ahead and follow France, risking worsening the Czech-American relationship and a massive blow back on future trade.

Photo Credit: 3D_Maennchen

France Hits American Tech Companies With Digital Services Tax

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Posted by Andreas Hellmann on Thursday, March 7th, 2019, 1:10 AM PERMALINK

At a recent cabinet meeting, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire introduced a Digital Services Tax hitting almost exclusively American tech companies. The new tax will be imposed retroactively to January 1, 2019, and will likely start a wave of digital taxation all over Europe.

This new tax poses unprecedented dangers to tax competition, tech-fostered innovation, and European and worldwide economic growth. The new levy represents a dramatic and irreversible shift for the international tax system and damages the transatlantic relationship and will likely lead to a spiral of retaliation.

The French government will apply the tax to companies that have global revenues of over 750 million Euro ($848 million), and French revenue over 25 million Euro ($28 million) and expects to bring in over 500 million Euro new revenue in 2019, going up to over 650 million Euro by 2022. 

Bruno Le Maire claimed, that „this is about justice, these giants use your personal data and make a significant profit from it, without paying their fair share of tax." A recent study by ECIPE, the European Centre for International Political Economy in Brussels shows that American digital companies actually often pay more in taxes than non-digital EU based companies.

The sole reason for the French government to impose this tax is not tax fairness, but an easy way to exploit the tech industry which is non-existent in France. 

This tax will result in double taxation, less innovation, negative economic growth, add fuel to an already ongoing trade war and will lead to higher costs for French businesses and price hikes for French consumers.

Photo Credit: Sens Commun

Senate Finance Committee Criticizes EU Countries' Unilateral Digital Tax Moves

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Posted by Andreas Hellmann on Thursday, January 31st, 2019, 11:59 AM PERMALINK

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and ranking member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) have again criticized European plans to tax American tech companies. In a letter addressed to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, the Senators criticize individual European Union countries that have already imposed a digital services tax or will do so soon after failing to agree to an EU levy.

The European Commission was not able to make a case for their tax proposal since multiple low tax member states like Ireland, Luxembourg, and the Nordic countries strongly oppose those plans. The letter comes at a time where more and more countries like France, Spain, Austria already have or soon will impose their own local Digital Services Taxes.   

“We write to express our serious concern regarding unilateral action by foreign countries to establish digital services taxes designed to discriminate against U.S.-based multinational companies. It is important that you make clear to the representatives of these countries the need to abandon unilateral actions and work through the multilateral process at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development."

An EU-wide or even unilateral Digital Services Tax poses unprecedented dangers to tax competition, tech-innovation, European and worldwide economic growth. The new tax would represent a dramatic and irreversible shift for the international tax system.  It would mean damage to the transatlantic relationship and could lead to a spiral of retaliation.

The EU intentionally designed this tax in a way to almost exclusively target American companies as there is no comparable digital industry anywhere in the European Union. 

Read the full letter here.

Photo Credit: Bankenverband - Bundesverband deutscher Banken

French Finance Minister Pushes Again For EU-Wide Digital Services Tax

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Posted by Andreas Hellmann on Tuesday, January 22nd, 2019, 2:57 PM PERMALINK

In a recent interview with "Le Journal du Dimanche," the French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said he expects the European Union to agree on a Digital Services Tax by the end of March. 

An EU-wide Digital Services Tax poses unprecedented dangers to tax competition, tech-fostered innovation, European and worldwide economic growth. The new tax would represent a dramatic and irreversible shift for the international tax system.  It would mean damage to the transatlantic relationship and could lead to a spiral of retaliation.

Le Maire's comments come as a surprise.  The EU member states have failed to reach a unanimous consensus on the European Commission’s digital service tax plans for over a year.
The process concluded in December thanks to many EU member states including  Luxembourg, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Malta and Ireland actively opposing the plans to impose this tax.

Those countries host not only many foreign tech companies but also fear a worsening relationship between the EU and the United States and a dramatic shift in the system of international taxation. 

The EU is under pressure as more and more countries like Spain, UK and France either already have a digital services tax in place or announced like Austria's chancellor Sebastian Kurz that they will follow through with their own levy shortly.

The European Commission's interest is not to increase competition between the member states but to "harmonize" taxation within the EU and is therefore strongly pushing to put an end to the veto power member states have over EU tax matters. This approach is poison for the very different economies, differences between different locations comprise many factors, and it is obviously not the same to operate a business in Luxembourg or one in rural Ireland. 

Nevertheless, Bruno Le Maire shows his determination in the interview saying that there are still some "hesitant countries," but he is convinced there will be agreement by the end of March and “with the European elections just a few months away, our citizens would find it incomprehensible if we gave up on this.” 

The European Commission’s original proposal was to force mainly American tech companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon to pay a 3% tax on their revenues in each country, rather than where the business is headquartered for purposes of taxation.

Now it is of the utmost importance for EU member states opposing a Digital Services Tax on the EU level to make their voices heard louder than ever, and in the U.S., the Trump administration must further step up its opposition.

Photo Credit: Sens Commun

EU "Climate" Regulations Could End Germany's Famous No Speed Limit Autobahn

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Posted by Andreas Hellmann on Friday, January 18th, 2019, 2:02 PM PERMALINK

The days of freedom on the German Autobahn without a speed limit could soon be over if the federal government adopts a draft proposal on "climate" protection by its own committee called "The National Platform on the Future of Mobility."

The committee which should be called "The National Platform on the Future of Immobility" proposes measures that guarantee controversy in the car-nation Germany, whose half a century old highway network is famous for “no limits”  all over the world.

The proposal imposes measures including:

-Speed limit of 130 km/h (80 mph)

-Fuel tax hike of three Euro Cents starting in 2023, ratcheting up by Euro Cent each following year, although Germans already pay one of the highest prices for gas - up to $6.50 per gallon.

-Abolition of tax breaks for diesel cars

-Quotas for electric and hybrid car sales. 

The measures would need to be adopted by the federal government and parliament in 2019 and will likely lead to a similar form of Yellow Vest protests as the most recent demonstrations against the attempt of French President Macron to raise fuel taxes. 

So it's official, "climate" activists ruin everything.

Photo Credit: holgileinchen