How do countries tax Facebook and Google?

Governments in many European countries such as Britain and France are making stricter regulations to collect taxes from Facebook and Google. Facebook and Google are the two companies with the largest online advertising market share in the world, present in dozens of countries. However, the issue of taxing these two companies also makes it difficult for law makers. By means of wriggling such as setting up a representative office and buying and selling intellectual property rights, these technology companies only have to pay very small taxes compared to their revenue. In 2017, Facebook taxed £ 15.8 million in the United Kingdom, equivalent to 1% of record revenue of £ 1.3 billion. Revenue increased by more than 50% but pre-tax profit declared by Facebook only increased by 6%. This very low tax rate annoys Margaret Hodge, a member of the UK Parliament. “It’s unacceptable that Facebook only pays 0.62% of its revenue in the UK”, Ms. Hodge wrote on Twitter. Many countries propose new tax Facebook is not the only company paying very low tax compared to sales in the UK. In 2017, Amazon paid 4.5 million pounds of tax on revenue of 8.7 billion pounds. Google closed 49.3 million tax tables while revenue of 5.7 billion pounds. Apple also paid only £ 10 million in revenue of £ 1.2 billion. At the end of 2018, the European Union (EU) discussed the proposed 3% taxation on Internet companies’ revenues. However, this proposal was not adopted when some countries such as Ireland, Sweden and Denmark objected. However, the issue of “electronic tax” for technology giants continues to be discussed in many countries since the beginning of 2019. France – the leading country in the 2018 tax proposal – has announced 3% tax rate for Internet companies in March 2019. Accordingly, this tax will be applied to about 30 large companies, including Google, Amazon and Facebook. The tax applies to all companies with global revenues of over 750 million euros, and sales in France of over 25 million euros. French Minister of Economy and Finance Bruno Le Maire said the new tax would bring in about 500 million euros per year for France. According to CNBC, many other European countries like the UK, Germany and Spain are also working to offer e-tax rates for Internet giants. In April 2019, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) said that the new provisions on anti-tax evasion will force multinational companies to be taxed with about $ 7 billion in revenue turned into profits for the pillars. Department located abroad. The ATO representative said the agency also considered fines of up to 40% for acts of tax evasion by multinational companies with revenues of over $ 1 billion. Earlier, in February 2019, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern also said the country was studying higher tariffs with Internet companies. This tax will be calculated based on revenue, not the profits of these companies in New Zealand, which falls in 2-3% of revenue. The New Zealand government estimates that the new tax will bring about 30-80 million USD to the budget each year. “Some big companies do business in New Zealand but are not taxed for the profits they earn. This is unfair and not allowed to continue”, said Ms. Ardern. Since 2015, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has proposed a common tax rate for 34 of the world’s largest economies. Based on this proposal, Facebook and Google will be subject to the same tax rate in many developed countries. However, it is not until 2020 that the OECD can provide detailed plans. What solution to cure tax evasion giants? On June 9, the G20 financial leaders agreed to draft a common set of rules to prevent “holes” that global tech giants are taking advantage of to avoid taxes. According to an analysis by Standard & Poor’s Financial Advisory Company, in the period from 2007-2015, the actual tax rate (tax rate on profit) paid in the US of 500 companies with the highest value is 27 % However, Apple pays only 17% of its profits, Alphabet (Google’s parent company) pays 16%, Amazon pays 13%. This number on Facebook is even lower, only 3.8%. In 2017, Amazon’s US profit was over US $ 5.6 billion, but the company hardly paid any federal tax, thanks in part to a large deduction when issuing shares to employees. Even in other countries, the gap between profits and taxes is greater. In 2016, Apple paid 2 billion USD in taxes while earning 41 billion USD in profit, the actual tax rate was only about 4.8%. These companies all claim to comply with the law and pay taxes on time. But a 2017 European Commission (EC) report indicates that the amount of tax paid by technology companies to European governments is less than half of traditional companies. This makes the government and businesses more pressing. Guardian said: “Big tech giants are reshaping society and the global economy, but their little contributions are not enough to help governments adapt”. In fact, these technology giants set up branches in many places and take advantage of loopholes in national tax laws to avoid a lot of legal taxes. Their tax avoidance strategy is to carry out paper transactions between subsidiaries to transfer income to countries with low taxes and transfer costs to countries with high taxes. Transfer pricing (transfer pricing) also helps significantly to this process. Currently, “tax havens” are often used by large technology firms such as Bermuda and Cayman Islands (0% corporate income tax). In particular, Ireland is also a country that attracts these companies because corporate income tax is only 12.5%, lower than many countries in the world. In addition, Ireland does not charge tax on franchising intellectual property fees for the first 15 years or useful life of assets, tax credits for research and development activities are also up to 25%. , perfectly suited to the operating model of technology companies. Because of these mechanisms, the G20 is considering two solutions to “patch the gap” in tax regulations. A transaction will be taxed based on where the goods and services are provided even if the company does not have an office there. This will be the basis for the big cross-border businesses like Facebook and Google to take responsibility in markets that feed them.