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European Union-France-Germany-Italy-Spain-Estonia

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Proposals for Taxation of Digital Companies in the EU

Two proposals for the taxation of digital companies in the EU are to be put forward during the upcoming EU Finance Ministers meeting scheduled for 15 to 16 September 2017. One proposal is being supported by the Finance Ministers of France, Germany, Italy, and Spain, which in a recently published letter have asked the European Commission to explore EU law compatible options and propose effective solutions based on the concept of establishing a so-called equalization tax that would be levied on the turnover generate by digital companies in the EU. However, Estonia, which currently holds the EU presidency, has reportedly voiced concerns with the potential negative effects of such a tax on turnover, such as the effect on loss-making companies, and will be putting forward a different proposal to tax the profits derived by digital companies from the EU, which would include the concept of a virtual permanent establishment.

Although the proposals are in their early stages, it is likely that EU measures for the taxation of digital companies will be implemented relatively quickly based on a recent comment from Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker that he is strongly in favor of moving to qualified majority voting (instead of a more difficult unanimous vote) for certain tax decisions. The comment was made in Junker's 2017 State of the Union Address in relation to the common consolidated corporate tax base, the financial transaction tax, and fair taxes for the digital industry.

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