Category: Digital Economy

Taxation and allocation of income generated from cross-border activities in the digital economy – Google, Apple, Microsoft, Netflix, Ebay, Amazon, Facebook, Alibaba, Baidu, Tencent, Uber, Airbnb, Expedia, PayPal etc.

Unilateral Measures related to taxation of the Digital Economy

Unilateral Measures related to taxation of the Digital Economy

Imposed and proposed unilateral measures to adress taxation of the Digital Economy CountryMeasurePercentageDecriptionEffective data Czech Republic DST (Law on selected digital services tax)The Czech Ministry of Finance submitted a finalized proposal to the Czech Government on Sept. 5, 2019, which is now pending the Czech Parliament’s approval. Effective date: to be determined, but likely sometime in 2020.? 2020 FranceDST (Tax on certain services provided by the enterprises of the digital sector)Enacted on July 11, 2019, and entered into force on July 26, 2019. Retroactive from January 1, 2019 IndiaEqualization LevyEqualization levy at a rate of 6% applies to persons making outbound payments to nonresident companies for digital advertising services (functionally operates as a DST imposed on a withholding basis).June 1, 2016 ItalyDST (Web Tax)Enacted in 2018 via the 2019 Budget Law, but the implementing legislation was never issued. On October 16, 2019, the Italian Government ... Continue to full case
Microsoft - Taxes and Transfer Pricing

Microsoft – Taxes and Transfer Pricing

Microsoft’s tax affairs have been in the spotlight of tax authorities all over the World during the last decade. Why? The setup used by Microsoft involves shifting profits from sales in the US, Europe and Asia to regional operating centers placed in low tax jurisdictions (Bermuda, Luxembourg, Ireland, Singapore and Puerto Rico). The following text has been provided by Microsoft in a US filing concerning effective tax and global allocation of income: “Our effective tax rate for the three months ended September 30, 2017 and 2016 was 18% and 17%, respectively. Our effective tax rate was lower than the U.S. federal statutory rate primarily due to earnings taxed at lower rates in foreign jurisdictions resulting from producing and distributing our products and services through our foreign regional operations centers in Ireland, Singapore, and Puerto Rico.“ “In fiscal year 2017, our U.S. income before income taxes was $6.8 ... Continue to full case
US response to OECDs Unified Approach

US response to OECDs Unified Approach

Letter from the US treasury to the OECD concerning the proposed Unified Approach on taxation of the Digital Economy, and the reply to the letter from the OECD. treasury-letter-oecd-digital-services-tax Letter-from-OECD-Secretary-General-Angel-Gurria-for-the-attention-of-The-Honorable-Steven-T-Mnuchin-Secretary-of-the-Treasury-United-States ... Continue to full case
Netflix under investigation for alleged tax evasion in Italy.

Netflix under investigation for alleged tax evasion in Italy.

Public prosecutors in Italy have opened a preliminary probe into the taxation of Netflix on the basis that servers and cables constitute a digital infrastructure that makes revenues taxable under Italian law. Italian media, Corriere della Sera, says that the prosecutors are working with Italy’s fiscal police to determine whether revenues from Netflix’s estimated 1.4 million Italian subscribers are subject to Italian taxation, even though Netflix operates out of the Netherlands. Italian prosecutors have recently also probed into the taxation of other U.S. tech giants such as Apple, Amazon and Facebook and collected a reported €5 billion-plus in back taxes. “Netflix does not pay taxes” the investigation in Milan starts. However, unlike the previous cases, Netflix have no companies, offices or employees in Italy. But still, Netflix earns millions selling streaming services to Italian customers. According to the prosecutor cables, fiber optics, computers, servers and ... Continue to full case
France vs Google, September 2019, Court approval of CJIP Agreement - Google agrees to pay EUR 1 billion in fines and taxes to end Supreme Court Case

France vs Google, September 2019, Court approval of CJIP Agreement – Google agrees to pay EUR 1 billion in fines and taxes to end Supreme Court Case

The district court of Paris has approved a  “convention judiciaire d’intérêt public” negotiated between the French state and Google for an amount of € 500 million plus another agreement with the French tax authorities which amounts to 465 million euros. The agreement puts an end to the French lawsuits against Google for aggressive tax evasion, and litigation with the tax administration relating to adjustments for the periods going from 2005 to 2018. The CJIP “convention judiciaire d’intérêt public“, was established by Article 22 of Law No. 2016-1691 of 9 December 2016 in France on transparency and fight against corruption. By Law No. 2018-898 of October 23, 2018 the law was extended to cover cases for tax evasion. According to the CJIP legal actions can be ended in return for the payment of a fine. The dispute concerned the existence of a permanent establishment of Google ... Continue to full case
US vs Amazon, August 2019, US Court of Appeal Ninth Circut, Case No. 17-72922

US vs Amazon, August 2019, US Court of Appeal Ninth Circut, Case No. 17-72922

In the course of restructuring its European businesses in a way that would shift a substantial amount of income from U.S.-based entities to the European subsidiaries, appellee Amazon.com, Inc. entered into a cost sharing arrangement in which a holding company for the European subsidiaries made a “buy-in” payment for Amazon’s assets that met the regulatory definition of an “intangible.” See 26 U.S.C. § 482. Tax regulations required that the buy-in payment reflect the fair market value of Amazon’s pre-existing intangibles. After the Commissioner of Internal Revenue concluded that the buy-in payment had not been determined at arm’s length in accordance with the transfer pricing regulations, the Internal Revenue Service performed its own calculation, and Amazon filed a petition in the Tax Court challenging that valuation. At issue is the correct method for valuing the preexisting intangibles under the then-applicable transfer pricing regulations. The Commissioner sought ... Continue to full case
France vs. Google, April 2019, Administrative Court of Appeal, Case N° 17PA03065

France vs. Google, April 2019, Administrative Court of Appeal, Case N° 17PA03065

The French tax administration argued that Google had a permenent establishment in France because the parent company in the US and its subsidiary in Ireland had been selling a service – online ads – to customers in France. In 2017 the administrative court found that Google France did not have the capability to carry out the advertising activities on its own. Google Ireland Limited therefore did not have a permanent establishment in France. The same conclution was reached i 2019 by the Administrative court of appeal. Click here for translation France vs Google April 2019, No 17PA03065, ... Continue to full case
Facebook in billion dollar dispute with the IRS related to transfers of intangibles to Ireland

Facebook in billion dollar dispute with the IRS related to transfers of intangibles to Ireland

In the annual report for 2018 Facebook Inc. has included the following statement on current tax disputes with the IRS. “…The tax laws applicable to our business, including the laws of the United States and other jurisdictions, are subject to interpretation and certain jurisdictions are aggressively interpreting their laws in new ways in an effort to raise additional tax revenue from companies such as Facebook. The taxing authorities of the jurisdictions in which we operate may challenge our methodologies for valuing developed technology or intercompany arrangements, which could increase our worldwide effective tax rate and harm our financial position, results of operations, and cash flows. For example, in 2016, the IRS issued us a formal assessment relating to transfer pricing with our foreign subsidiaries in conjunction with the examination of the 2010 tax year, and although we disagree with the IRS’s position and are contesting ... Continue to full case
France vs. Apple, Feb. 2019, Settlement on Payment of 571 million Euros in Back Taxes

France vs. Apple, Feb. 2019, Settlement on Payment of 571 million Euros in Back Taxes

Apple has agreed to paid an additional 571 million euros to France in a settlement with the tax authorities. According to the French news agency, l’expansion l’Express – “For several months now, secret negotiations on this subject have been taking place between Apple and the French International Audit Department (DVNI). But it is not until the end of December 2018 that a confidential agreement was reached. The subject of the negotiations has been the limited revenues and the low taxes paid by Apple in France for the last ten years.” A similar agreement was entered by Apple in the UK and Apple in Italy ... Continue to full case
Blizzard Gaming involved in major Tranfer Pricing disputes

Blizzard Gaming involved in major Tranfer Pricing disputes

US Gaming Giant, Activision Blizzard Inc. – known for games such as World of Warcraft and Diablo – is and has been involved in several major transfer pricing disputes – with the US, French, UK, and Swedish tax authorities. In a 10Q filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission from November 2018 the following information was provided by the company on pending tax cases. “Activision Blizzard’s 2009 through 2016 tax years remain open to examination by certain major taxing jurisdictions to which we are subject. During February 2018, the Company was notified by the IRS that its tax returns for 2012 through 2016 tax years will be subject to examination. In September 2018, the IRS concluded its examination of our 2009 through 2011 tax years. The Company also has several state and non-U.S. audits pending, including the French audit discussed below. In addition, as ... Continue to full case
Denmark vs Microsoft Denmark, January 2019, Danish Supreme Court

Denmark vs Microsoft Denmark, January 2019, Danish Supreme Court

The Danish tax authorities were of the opinion that Microsoft Denmark had not been properly remunerated for performing marketing activities due to the fact that OEM sales to Danish customers via MNE OEM’s had not been included in the calculation of local commissions. According to the Market Development Agreement (MDA agreement) concluded between Microsoft Denmark and MIOL with effect from 1 July 2003, Microsoft Denmark received the largest amount of either a commission based on sales invoiced in Denmark or a markup on it’s costs. Microsoft Denmark’s commission did not take into account the sale of Microsoft products that occurred through the sale of computers by multinational computer manufacturers with pre-installed Microsoft software to end users in Denmark – (OEM sales). In court, Microsoft required a dismissal. In a narrow 3:2 decision the Danish Supreme Court found in favor of Microsoft. “…Microsoft Denmark’s marketing may ... Continue to full case
Major US MNE's in Ireland

Major US MNE’s in Ireland

Major US MNE’s with regional Headquarters in Ireland for European business activities. The corporation tax rate in Ireland is only 12.5%. However to further sweeten the deal for MNE’s, Ireland has been known to offer special tax deals to MNE’s resulting in much lower effective tax rates. Ireland provides MNEs with both low tax centers for European activities and conduit holding companies serving as hubs for transferring profits and capital to low tax jurisdictions such as Cyprus and Bermuda. Especially MNEs within the IT sector have been known to use a combination of subsidiaries in Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Bermuda to reduce their taxes (“Double Duch Irish sandwich”). Ireland has been involved in investigations concerning corporate taxes in both the EU and US. An investigation of Apple discovered that two of the company’s Irish subsidiaries were not classified as tax residents in the U.S ... Continue to full case
US SOUTH DAKOTA v. WAYFAIR, INC., June 2018, US Supreme Court, Case No. 17-494

US SOUTH DAKOTA v. WAYFAIR, INC., June 2018, US Supreme Court, Case No. 17-494

Concerned about the erosion of its sales tax base and corresponding loss of critical funding for state and local services, the South Dakota Legislature in 2016 enacted a law requiring out-of-state sellers to collect and remit sales tax “as if the seller had a physical presence in the State.” The Act covers sellers that, on an annual basis, deliver more than $100,000 of goods or services into the State or engage in 200 or more separate transactions for the delivery of goods or services into the State. Respondents, top online retailers with no employees or real estate in South Dakota, each meet the Act’s minimum sales or transactions requirement, but do not collect the State’s sales tax. South Dakota filed suit in state court, seeking a declaration that the Act’s requirements are valid and applicable to respondents and an injunction requiring respondents to register for ... Continue to full case
Apple - Taxes and Transfer Pricing

Apple – Taxes and Transfer Pricing

Apple’s tax affairs have been in the spotlight of tax authorities for decades – and still are! Settlements have been entered with numerous European Countries, among others – Italy, the UK and France. Apple has also been investigated by the EU and a State Aid ruling was issued in August 2016. According to the ruling “Ireland granted illegal tax benefits to Apple” and the European Commission ordered Apple to pay €13 billion, plus interest, in unpaid Irish taxes from 2004–14 to the Irish state. U.S. Senate scrutiny of Apple Inc.’s tax strategies back in 2009 turned the spotlight on a stateless entity with $30 billion in profit since 2009 that’s incorporated in Ireland, controlled by a board in California, and didn’t pay taxes in either place ... Continue to full case
India vs Mastercard, June 2018, AAR No 1573 of 2014

India vs Mastercard, June 2018, AAR No 1573 of 2014

The issue was whether Mastercard Asien Pasific Ltd has a permanent establishment in India as regards the use of a global network and infrastructure to process card payment transactions for customers in India and as regards other related activities. India’s Authority for Advance Rulings found that that Mastercard’s activities in India created a permanent establishment under several different theories. The AAR also concluded that processing fees paid to Mastercard’s regional headquarters in Singapore by Indian banks and other financial institutions were royalty income, but would be taxable as business profits in India under Article 7 in the DTT between India and Singapore for being effectively connected with a PE of Mastercard Asia Pacific in India. AAR ruling: India-vs-Mastercard-asia-pacific-ltd-6-June-2018-AAR-No-1573-of-2014 ... Continue to full case
Tax avoidance in Australia

Tax avoidance in Australia

In May 2018 the final report on corporate tax avoidance in Australia was published by the Australian Senate. The report contains the findings, conclusions and recommendations based on 4 years of hearings and investigations into tax avoidance practices by multinationals in Australia. Australian-final-report-on-tax-avoidance ... Continue to full case
Denmark vs Microsoft Denmark, March 2018, Danish National Court, SKM2018.416.ØLR

Denmark vs Microsoft Denmark, March 2018, Danish National Court, SKM2018.416.ØLR

The Danish Tax Ministry and Microsoft meet in Court in a case where the Danish tax authorities had issued an assessment of DKK 308 million. The Danish tax authorities were of the opinion that Microsoft had not been properly remunerated for performing marketing activities due to the fact that OEM sales to Danish customers via MNE OEM’s had not been included in the calculation of local commissions. In court, Microsoft required a dismissal with reference to the fact that Sweden, Norway and Finland had either lost or resigned similar tax cases against Micorosoft. The National Court ruled in favor of Microsoft. The decision has now been appealed to the Supreme Court by the Danish tax ministery. Click here for translation DK vs MS Marketing-and Sales Commissioner ... Continue to full case
Additional guidance on the attribution of profits to permanent establishments

Additional guidance on the attribution of profits to permanent establishments

The OECD has released additional guidance on the attribution of profits to permanent establishments. This additional guidance sets out high-level general principles for the attribution of profits to permanent establishments arising under Article 5(5), in accordance with applicable treaty provisions, and includes examples of a commissionnaire structure for the sale of goods, an online advertising sales structure, and a procurement structure. It also includes additional guidance related to permanent establishments created as a result of the changes to Article 5(4), and provides an example on the attribution of profits to permanent establishments arising from the anti-fragmentation rule included in Article 5(4.1). See also the 2008 Guidance and 2010 Guidance. additional-guidance-attribution-of-profits-to-permanent-establishments-BEPS-action-7 ... Continue to full case
France vs Valueclick Ltd. March 2018, CAA, Case no 17PA01538

France vs Valueclick Ltd. March 2018, CAA, Case no 17PA01538

The issue in the case before the Administrative Court of Appeal of Paris was whether an Irish company had a PE in France in a situation where employees of a French company in the same group carried out marketing, representation, management, back office and administrative assistance services on behalf of the group. The following facts were used to substantiate the presence of a French PE: French employees negotiated the terms of contracts and were involved in drafting certain contractual clauses with the customers. Contracts were automatically signed by the Irish company – whether this action corresponded to a simple validation of the contracts negotiated and drawn up by the managers and employees in France. Local advertising programs were developed and monitored by employees in France. French employees acted to third parties as employees of the Irish company. Customers did not distinguish between the Irish and the French company. However, ... Continue to full case
Amazon has settled a 200 million Euro tax dispute with France

Amazon has settled a 200 million Euro tax dispute with France

The dispute between Amazon and the French tax authorities relates to transfer pricing in fiscal years 2006 to 2010. Amazon has been accused of tax avoidance in the EU by channeling all local sales through Luxembourg. This set up has been changed in France, where Amazon in 2015 established a branch where all retail sales, charges and profits in France are booked. In October 2017 the EU commission decided that Luxembourg’s arrangement with Amazon is in conflict with EU State Aid regulations and ordered Luxembourg to recover 250 million euros in back taxes from Amazon. This decision has later been challenged by Luxembourg ... Continue to full case
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