QuickLinks - Taxation and tariffs
QuickLinks - Taxation and tariffs
Taxation and tariffs
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Issue no. 405 - 24 January 2010
FR - France could tax Google to subsidize music
A report financed by the French government recommends that Google, MSN, Yahoo, and other big advertising companies - as well as Internet service providers -vbe taxed, with revenue set to help fund the music and publishing sectors. Google is "profiting without any consideration" for music artists and book publishers, according to the report, written by Jacques Toubon, France's former minister of culture, Patrick Zelnick, a former music executive who produced French First Lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy's songs, and Guillaume Cerutti, an executive at Sotheby's France.
Issue no. 402 - 18 October 2009
UK - VAT abolished on text donations
Donations to UK charities sent via text message will be free of VAT from this week as part of an agreement with the major mobile phone operators. Under the framework set up by the Mobile Data Association (MDA), gifts made to a dedicated short code will have the VAT waived. It means charities of all sizes will be able to receive an estimated 10p in the £1 extra for text gifts of up to £10.
Issue no. 388 - 1 June 2008
FR - Télévision publique : les acteurs du Net refusent d'être taxés
L'Asic et Renaissance Numérique critiquent vertement le scénario de la Commission Copé qui remet sur la table l'hypothèse d'une taxation des revenus publicitaires des portails internet pour financer l'audiovisuel public. Elles sont d'autant plus virulentes que cette idée est soutenue par les opérateurs télécoms.
Issue no. 383 - 27 January 2008
EU - Reding distances herself from Sarkozy's Net tax
The European Union telecommunications commissioner, Viviane Reding, has distanced herself from a proposal by President Nicolas Sarkozy of France to impose a tax on Internet and mobile phone access, saying it might not be the best way to expand access to new media. At a conference in Munich, Reding said that the proposal ran contrary to her vision of a Europe where borderless and inexpensive access to Internet and cellphone networks was the standard.
EU - Sarkozy proposes new internet tax
French President Nicolas Sarkozy has proposed new taxes on internet access and mobile phone use. The new taxes would help fund France's two public television channels, which would be free of advertising. There would also be a levy on the advertising revenue made by France's private broadcasters.
Issue no. 382 - 6 January 2008
EU agrees to overhaul VAT on digital services
Downloads of software, ringtones, games, music and movies sold to consumers will be taxed where the consumer is located instead of where the supplier is based with effect from 2015 under changes to Europe's VAT regime. The changes are intended to prevent distortions of competition between member states that operate different VAT rates. For business-to-consumer supplies of telecoms, broadcasting and electronic services, taxation will be determined by the place of consumption. VAT will therefore be payable in the EU member state where the consumer is based at the rate prevailing in that state. Business-to-business supplies of telecoms and electronic services will not be affected by the changes as these are already taxed by reference to where the customer is located.
Issue no. 377 - 5 July 2007
EU - 3G mobile telecommunications licences not subject to VAT
Judgment of the Court of Justice in Case C-284/04 and Case C-369/04 T-Mobile Austria GmbH and Others v Republik Österreich Hutchison 3G UK Ltd and Others v Commissioners of Customs & Excise. The award by the State of 3G mobile telecommunications licences by auction does not constitute an economic activity. Consequently that activity does not fall within the scope of the Sixth VAT Directive.
Issue no. 367 - 23 September 2006
EU - TVA sur licences de télécommunications mobiles-UMTS
T-Mobile Austria GmbH e.a. / République d'Autriche et Hutchinson 3G UK Ltd e.a. / Commissioners of Customs & Excise. Conclusions de l´Avocat général dans les affaires C-284/04 et C-369/04. L´Avocat général, Mme Kokott, estime que l´adjudication par l´Etat de licences de télécommunications mobiles-UMTS par voie d´enchères n´est pas soumise à la TVA. L´adjudication par un organisme d´Etat de ces licences par voie d´enchères est certes selon l´avocat général une activité économique au sens des dispositions relatives au système commun de la TVA. L´Etat et les autres organismes de droit public ne sont toutefois pas assujettis pour les activités qu'ils accomplissent en tant qu'autorités publiques
Issue no. 362 - 11 June 2006
EU - E-tailers can still shop for best VAT regime
A bid to stop e-commerce companies shopping around for the best VAT regime has failed to win support at European Union level. Though the discussions came close to an agreement, objections from Germany, Luxembourg and Portugal mean that only an interim arrangement can be put in place. VAT is currently charged at the rate of the seller's country. In order for e-commerce to be more effective, argued the EU, it should be charged at the rates of the buyer's country. That situation has led to e-commerce firms shopping around for the lowest VAT rate nations and establishing their businesses there.
Issue no. 291 - 15 November 2003
EU - Allemagne: Bruxelles appelé à trancher sur la validité d’une taxe sur les PC et les imprimantes
Les taxes sur les PC et les imprimantes provoquent à nouveau des remous en Allemagne. L’association Bitkom, qui rassemble quelque 700 entreprises du secteur des télécommunications et des nouvelles technologies, en appelle à l’arbitrage de la Commission européenne. Elle s’insurge contre «le comportement monopolistique abusif des sociétés de gestion des droits d’auteur, qui essaient d’imposer des taxes sur les PC et les imprimantes».
Issue no. 287 - 11 October 2003
PlayStation 2 is a games console, not a PC
Sony has lost an appeal over the classification of its PlayStation 2 for import tax purposes. It is officially a games console and not, as Sony had argued, a "digital processing unit" - a claim which, if successful, would have let Sony off the hook on import duty. The case resulted in a verdict from the Court of First Instance in Luxembourg. It was, said the court, "undeniable that, both by the manner in which the PlayStation 2 is imported, sold and presented to the public and by the way it is configured, it is intended to be used mainly for playing video games". Accordingly Sony cannot reclaim the duties it has paid. New legislation coming into force in the New Year means that all imports of games consoles after that time will be zero rated – with no duty payable.see
Sony Computer Entertainment Europe v Commission
Issue no. 276 - 23 June 2003
EU Stirs Up Internet Sales Tax Debate
On July 1, the 15-nation EU will begin collecting the VAT, or value-added tax, on sales of digital goods and other electronic transactions from U.S. and other non-EU companies. This means that American companies selling downloadable music, movies, games and software to customers in the EU might have to collect taxes that could boost the total cost of their products in Europe by as much as 25 percent. For companies like America Online and Internet auction giant eBay, it means additional costs for restructuring their European operations, as well as possible price increases for their customers.
Issue no. 271 - 18 May 2003
Administration Urges Keeping Online-Tax Ban
The administration is asking Congress to continue its five-year-old moratorium on Internet taxes. The moratorium prevents state and local governments from placing new taxes on Internet access. It also says that states and localities cannot place new taxes on goods or services bought online if they're not taxed offline. The moratorium does not prohibit states from collecting online sales taxes, a popular misconception. States can collect sales taxes on Internet purchases if the merchant has a business location in the state and the customer is also located there.
Issue no. 270 - 11 May 2003
LU - AOL Europe sets up Luxembourg base for tax reasons
AOL Europe, the Internet division of AOL Time Warner, is establishing a Luxembourg operations base to comply with new EU tax legislation.
Issue no. 237 - 16 June 2002
EU - VAT: new Commission on-line validation service saves time and costs for businesses
From today, it will be easier for businesses across Europe to check the validity of their customers' VAT identification numbers on the Internet. The Commission has launched an online service which gives businesses access to certain parts of the system of electronic information exchange used between tax authorities, known as the "VAT Information Exchange System" or
. The new service will save time and administrative costs both for businesses and tax administrations.
Issue no. 234 - 11 May 2002
EU - Council applies VAT to electronically delivered services
The European Commission has welcomed the Council's adoption of a Directive and a Regulation to modify the rules for applying value added tax (VAT) to certain services supplied by electronic means as well as subscription-based and pay-per-view radio and television broadcasting. The changes will require suppliers of digital products from outside the EU for the first time to charge VAT on sales to private consumers (so-called B2C), just like EU suppliers.
Issue no. 224 - 16 February 2002
EU - Council Approves Online Sales Tax Plan
The European Union's Council of Economics and Finance Ministers gave "political agreement" to a proposal to apply the E.U.'s value-added tax (VAT) to sales of digital products via the Internet, despite US protests. VAT would apply to all products sold on the Internet, as well as products that actually are consumed online, such as digital music or books. The VAT also would apply to goods and services that E.U. citizens and companies buy from businesses operating in the U.S. and other countries. The new system would not require E.U. businesses to charge the tax when selling products to people or companies in markets outside the union, something the E.U. says would remove a "significant competitive handicap." see
(p. 29 - VAT on e-commerce) and Proposal for a
Council Directive amending Directive 77/388/EEC
as regards the value added tax arrangements applicable to certain electronically supplied services and radio and television broadcasting services. see also
U.S. officials knock EU tax proposal
Issue no. 217 - 16 December 2001
EU - ECOFIN asks for interim solution on VAT and e-commerce
The Economic and Finance ministers Council on 13 December asked the Commission and the Member States to work on an interim solution on the issue of VAT and e-commerce. Such an interim solution would be limited to three years. see
for Council Directive as regards the value added tax arrangements applicable to services supplied by electronic means (EurLex) and
ECOFIN Council minutes of 13 December 2001 (provisional version)
. see also
EU E-Commerce Tax Makes Crucial Gain
Issue no. 211 - 20 October 2001
Germany - Rundfunkgebühr ab 2005 auch für Computer
Der Einzug der Rundfunkgebühren soll künftig stark vereinfacht werden und auch für Computer gelten. Private Haushalte sollen künftig pauschal nur eine Gebühr zahlen. Entsprechendes soll für Betriebe und Einrichtungen gelten.
Issue no. 206 - 3 September 2001
USA - House panel passes Web-tax ban
A House of Representatives panel voted to bar states from taxing Internet access and extend for five years a ban on other Internet-specific taxes, declining to approve legislation that would help states tax online commerce.
Issue no. 205 - 3 August 2001
UK - Freeserve slams US rival's £30m-a-year VAT advantage
Freeserve the internet service provider, has urged Chancellor Gordon Brown to close a tax loophole that allows its US-owned rival AOL to save about £30m a year in VAT. AOL has been taking advantage of a tax ruling that says that VAT is not payable on internet content services provided from outside the UK.
USA - House panel passes Web-tax ban
A U.S. House of Representatives panel voted to bar states from taxing Internet access and extend for five years a ban on other Internet-specific taxes, declining to approve legislation that would help states tax online commerce.
Issue no. 197 - 21 May 2001
London warns EU against web tax
The UK government is warning other European Union countries against going ahead with proposals to impose value added tax on digital products sold over the internet.
Issue no. 191 - 19 March 2001
Britain shifts taxes on online gambling
A change in Britain's taxation of online gambling will give the country a global lead in a market worth tens of billions of dollars. Chancellor Gordon Brown, announcing the budget for the coming year, said the government would drop the 9 percent tax it had collected on all bets since 1966 in favor of a 15 percent tax on bookies' gross revenues. The deal came after lengthy consultations with the nation's turf accountants, who in return agreed to relocate to Britain the e-gambling outposts they had established in such tax havens as Antigua, Gibraltar and the Channel Islands.
States argue for taxing Internet transactions
The ability of local governments to collect sales and use taxes from Internet transactions was argued strenuously during a lengthy Senate hearing, as time runs out on the existing federal moratorium on Internet taxation.
Issue no. 190 - 12 March 2001
OECD moots Net tax plan
A global approach to the taxation of online trade came closer when the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development called for companies that sell tangible goods electronically to register and pay VAT in the countries where their customers are based. See
comprehensive set of reports and technical papers
released for information and, in some cases, for public comment by 30 April 2001 (OECD).
Links to news items about legal and regulatory aspects of Internet and the information society, particularly those relating to information content, and market and technology.
QuickLinks consists of
a free newsletter appearing approximately every two to three weeks. The newsletter is distributed by electronic mail through an "announcement only" mailing list.
a Web site with frequent updates, an events page, news items organised by category as well as chronologically by issue and full text search.
QuickLinks is edited by Richard Swetenham
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