France can demand all it likes

France has demanded £1.3billion in back-tax from Google – 10 times as much as Britain got in its ‘disproportionately small’ deal.
The French have demanded the substantial sum, despite Google having a much smaller operation there.

Whether they’re going to get it is a slightly different matter, isn’t it?

19 thoughts on “France can demand all it likes”

  1. The French are absolutely desperate for cash. I discovered this recently when I came to pay taxes here and found it is astonishingly, mind-blowingly simple to pay whatever amounts is demanded in your bill. Everything else in France requires 35 pieces of paper translated and stamped by an official translator and handed in in person at a local office staffed by a hundred people but with only one counter open.

  2. They may get their money, but it is irrelevant to Google UK because the Irish-French and the Irish-UK double taxation treaties are very different and clauses in the UK treaty that Google probably rely on do not occur in the French treaty – not that the PAC or the Mail would bother to check.

  3. Well, they can demand it from Google France. They can’t demand it from Google AnyWhereElse. Is it likely that Google France have been so lax with their accounts that there’s £26 BEEELION of misaccounted taxable deductions, (assuming a 20% french corptax). I don’t think Google France even had £26 billion of /turnover/ let along one little bit of outgoings that was missed in the sums.

  4. If you allow me to be your tax demanding person, I’ll demand only £13,440.

    Pay now to take advantage of this once-in a lifetime, low low tax settlement price!

  5. It’s not unusual for the EU to shake down tech companies when it’s funds start to get a bit low. Usually though it’s just a fine for ‘being a large successful business’. Taxing imaginative profits is a new one, unless they are changing the fine to ‘because you know our tax code better than we do’.

  6. So Much For Subtlety

    The problem with being administered by Clever Clogs recruited out of places like ENA is that those Clever Clogs don’t think they are the problem. They think they are the solution.

    So France has some of the highest taxes in Europe. France’s GDP is $2.488,37 (€2.115,21) trillion. Public debt is 89.9% of GDP (2012 est.) and rising. Revenues are $1.341 trillion (2012 est.). Spending is $1.458 trillion (2012 est.). So that is a deficit of $117 billion.

    You would think that now is the time to give France’s actual wealth creators, its job providers, a break. But no. Hollande has an insane scheme to take another 20 billion euros from French businesses in order to bribe people to hire some young people.

    France is f**ked as long as its ruling class fails to realise it is the problem.

  7. I look forward to Renault, Citroen and Peugeot paying UK tax on the manufacturing profits of cars sold in the UK.

    And BMW, Mercedes and everyone else in the world…

  8. @SMFS My favourite Enarch cartoon (sadly, I’ve not been able to locate a web image) shows two such specimens, one of whom is saying:
    “Of course, your idea might be perfectly fine in practice, but it could never work in theory.”

  9. Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.

    Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
    But will they come when you do call for them?

    Henry The Fourth, Part I, Act 3, scene 1, 52–58

  10. How much longer will it be until Google just say sod off to any country that tries this and shuts down service. The only question is how many hours it would take the government to cave if no one in France could access any Google services?

  11. @LY: I thought that, but then reconsidered, because all that would happen would be that people used Bing or other search engines, and when Google came back online some wouldn’t go back. So they would be shooting themselves in the foot and just lose market share as a result.

    On the other hand perhaps they could target the State apparatus in any given country that was giving them grief over tax – make it so no State body computer system could use Google or any of its associated websites. Maybe target the MPs themselves – they would soon get the message if every time they tried to use Google they got a special page telling them they were not entitled to use the free service.

  12. Jim I can see that point but what happens when someone tries to charge Bing a kagillion quid in back taxes. At some point the profits* from France, in this case, end up being less than the cost to defend against spurious accusations. Eventually the government gives up or there are no companies willing to do business there.

    *That is assuming that Google isn’t actually avoiding taxes. If they are hiding profits that should be taxed then it makes sense to continue the fight since they only risk losing what they should have paid anyway.

  13. If I remember my history correctly the French monarchy was afraid of its nobles investing in trade and generating enough money to threaten the crown so actively interfered and sabotaged trade activities which handily allowed the British and Dutch to exapand their trade activities with less competition. Maybe modern day France isn’t so different in some ways

  14. In that case then the French elite would want to push foreign companies out.

    Unless you are in some kind of economic union with France then they can run their country in any manner they choose. It is their country after all.

  15. I’ve long thought France is the canary in the mine for the western welfare states. They’ll probably collapse first, hopefully proving a wake up call for the rest.

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