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Four questions about an agreement that can make Google, Amazon, and Facebook pay taxes

A global deal involving 127 countries set the theme Tuesday for a tax on Gafa, the digital giants.

Gafa (Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple) are a headache in terms of taxation. These digital giants practice tax optimization and avoiding taxation in countries where they have users (many) and making profits.

But this situation can change with the principle agreement reached by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which was presented on Tuesday, January 29.

What's the problem with Gafa?

The difficulty lies in the fact that Gafa are companies specializing in digital. "They have a non-material activity that does not need to be fixed in the territory", illuminates Nicholas Arpadjian, author of the book Cybersecurity (2015, EDF PUF), contacted by franceinfo. Their profits are moving to European countries with very favorable taxes, such as Ireland or Luxembourg. "These countries have even made one of the pillars of their economy, adds the author. They are less taxable, but for a larger number of companies ". In Ireland, the tax rate for profit is, for example, 12.5%, versus 33.3% in France release.

Even when they were sued by French tax authorities, these companies managed to escape, such as Google, which escaped a tax recovery of more than one billion euros due to "legal uncertainty over its founding in France", rappellait Express in 2017. Faced with these difficulties and the inability to get a global deal, some countries such as France, the United Kingdom, Singapore or Spain have taken the lead and unilaterally introduced a tax on these giants from the world. which should enter into force during the year 2019. However, precise The world (subscribers' article), "I new OECD tax rules were adopted by the G20 leaders (…), then they should logically replace Gafa taxes that have already been adopted by some countries unilaterally ".

What does this agreement provide?

The deal, released on Tuesday, January 29, was resolved within the framework of the inclusive framework, the body of the OECD where international tax rules apply which includes 127 countries, including France, China and the United States. "The international community has made a significant step in resolving the fiscal challenges caused by the digitization of the economy"Pascal Saint Amans, director of the OECD Tax Policy and Administration Center, said in a statement.

The first evolution refers to "redistribution of rights to be imposed", in advance World (Subscriber Article). Previously, the right to tax was owned by the country where the company's head office is located. From now on, this right can be shared between the country in which the seat is located and the country where the users of the platform are located. In particular, "you must see where is digitally well-consumed, says Nicholas Arpagian, it can be the best indicator ". According to him, "consumption in national territory, depending on the number of nationals of the country's users of the platform, should be a unit of account".

The other pillar of the agreement is the introduction of minimum tax companies whose profits are realized in low-tax countries. "This system will allow the state to regain the difference between a tax paid abroad and a tax that would be paid on its territory", written The world. For Nicholas Arpagian, this agreement is beneficial for countries as they will be "painless for the consumer". "These companies will use their financial reserves to pay these fines." Politically, it's symbolic, he addsthis shows that the state can receive tax revenues and not put pressure on the population further ".

How can this contract be applied?

The introduction of this tax is not necessarily obvious. "When you have physical reserves, it's easier, admits Nicholas Arpagian, because taxation is based on the materiality of goods and services ". Currently, the audience numbers come from platforms, so it will be necessary for states to confirm. "We will have to answer the questions:" Where is the creation of value, where is the wealth created? "It is necessary for the state to have the power of expertise so that they are not dependent only on the numbers or the descriptions of the procedures given by these giants", says the author. There is a risk that states are not able to understand the mechanisms deployed by Gafa.

"The tax base is difficult to identify, it is necessary to find reliable, standardized financial information common to all stakeholders, then to specify a declarative process with the administration and to provide an effective control capacity for actors who are partly abroad, it's complicated ", He lost Thomas Mercy, a tax lawyer at Arsen's company, interviewed by usinenouvelle.

Last trap: avoiding Hadopi syndrome. "This regulation was based on download, but it's a streaming that prevails today", says Nicholas Arpagian. The latter insists on the need not to be locked into regulation too fixed, where only the "technologies that are now known or overwhelmed".

When can this tax be created?

This agreement comes a long way and ends a paralysis that lasted nearly seven years. "We did not think we could get there this year"admitted Angel Gurria, Secretary General of the OECD. "I think the conditions exist to determine this year the basis of an agreement that could be approved and take effect in 2020. It is possible"assured the head of this institution.

On a positive note: In Davos, where the World Economic Forum was held in late January, Google Vice President Ruth Porat also supported these negotiations. "As for taxation issues, we are very sincere: we support the OECD initiative"she explained at the round table. A great architect of the GAFA tax, Bruno Le Maire welcomed this "an important announcement". "It's months that we are struggling to promote the theme"remember.

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