back to article BAN UK tax breaks on patented tech, fumes German finance minister

German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble has called for a ban on so-called "patent box" tax breaks offered by Blighty, the Netherlands and other EU member states. Schäuble told reporters after a European economics meeting that the tax breaks - offered to companies on patented inventions - resulted in unfair competition for …

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Coat

Belgium, one of the first countries to introduce a patent box scheme

Should have patented it :D

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WTF?

Re: Belgium, one of the first countries to introduce a patent box scheme

Surely only the USPTO would be silly enough to grant a patent for something so obvious and just common sense?

Then again, in a world where a Russian lawyer/auditor can be convicted for tax evasion four years after his death in custody (following an investigation run partially by people he had actually accused of tax evasion), when MPs are told they should get a 10% pay rise (for doing nothing special whatsoever - and on the day it's been announced one of their former colleagues is to face false accounting charges!), who knows what might happen next?

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N2

@Wolfgang Schäuble

Mind yer own frigging business, weve still got one Lancaster!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @Wolfgang Schäuble

unfortunately, our German friends not only stashed away a handful of M-109, but also a few of those good old V1s and 2s, you know.

and, given that our spooks are closer in bed with American spooks, that the German spooks, and no spook likes to be humiliated...and given, that we have plenty of WMD, no need to sex up anything, we should expect a swift, UN-lead German contingent on the doorstep rather soon.

We'd better start blowing those AA balloons!

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Mushroom

Re: @Wolfgang Schäuble

Indeed. It's times like these that you realise just how misguided CND are.

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You could get the idea they are doing it just to attract companies

Isn't that the aim of tax breaks: To encourage private companies to do things that otherwise they might not do because of the cost ?

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yep

>You could get the idea they are doing it just to attract companies

any other explanation? We thought the title would look nice in Hansard? A big company did it and ran away?

Congratulations to the Germans for stating the bleeding obvious. Now sod off unless you want us to quit the EU.

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Holmes

No shit, Sherlock

Though in this case, rather than encouraging them to do something, it is encouraging them to do in this country rather than in that country.

The solution is obvious: They should create the same tax breaks in Germany!

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Anonymous Coward

@A Non e-mouse

"Isn't that the aim of tax breaks: To encourage private companies to do things that otherwise they might not do because of the cost ?"

Yes. Govs will punish private companies less if they do their money making here. So nice of the gov to offer to take less from those who earn it, but it comes with conditions.

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Re: @A Non e-mouse

>So nice of the gov to offer to take less from those who earn it, but it comes with conditions.

Also so nice of the companies to be able to take advantage of things the government offers like enforcement of the rule of law, protection from invasion by another country that believes in nationalization, police and fire protection, schools to educate their future work force, courts to handle business disputes, etc. Here's also a hint about all those "lazy" federal government employees you probably complain about. In the US and probably UK also the majority of them are soldiers.

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Nice idea, shame about the rules

You can see the motivation for this: get companies patenting stuff in the UK or "Yurp" and rewarding them with a little less tax in recognition of the R&D they've done.

It's just a shame that the pen pushers who come up with these rules and incentives just don't have the brain power to see where these seemingly good ideas will end up. I expect it all sounds pleasant and altruistic over a nice cup of tea in the planning meeting, but HMRC (and others) need to get out a bit more and see that in the real world the attack-accountants (!) in major multinationals will just rip these efforts to shreds in an effort to squeeze the last conceivable milli-penny from the tax liabillity.

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WTF?

Until Germany introduce a mandatory minimum wage for all workers . . .

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Coat

Ve haf ways of harmonising Europe!

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Anonymous Coward

Don't tell him Pike!

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Happy

Sorry...

Sorry about hijacking the thread, there will never again be a more perfect spot for my moniker.

Agree. If the Germans really want a level playing field, they should just adopt the same breaks as everyone else. We are still capitalists, aren't we?

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Anonymous Coward

Thisnis not the result you are looking for .. Move along

"...a policy they say encourages innovation and investment in R&D"

No, what it encourages is innovation and investment in patenting. Not quite the same thing.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Thisnis not the result you are looking for .. Move along

hmmm, or worse - its a tax discount on corporation tax on profits taxable in the UK. That encourages generation of taxable revenue in the UK not investment anywhere. It does require qualifying R&D (to avoid patent trolls) but that R&D can occur anywhere.

Not bad per se if it actually increases HMRC tax incomes at no cost to the UK (which I doubt as it allows any patent not just new ones) but rather more likely to be about shifting revenue than stimulating additional innovation or investment or R&D (which may be the real objection). It may stimulate marketing and sales in the UK rather more.

Maybe worse it could stimulate raising marginal revenues on rights that could be exploited better another way as it distorts the economics of patent exploitation. It promotes proprietary and exclusionary rights.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Thisnis not the result you are looking for .. Move along

"Not bad per se if it actually increases HMRC tax incomes at no cost to the UK[....]"

Ah yes, the old "tax TheyThemThoseOverThere, not me!" approach.

Unfortunately, you are always somebody else's TheyThemThoseOverThere.

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Anonymous Coward

unfair competition for foreign investment

= when "they" do it and "we" overlooked the opportunity. Same bleating from everywhere, really.

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Headmaster

4th Reich finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble Should also now call for harmonizing of corporate tax across all of the 4th Reich (Fatherland + Lebensraum ).

Regional provinces such as Ireland must raise corporate tax to the same level as the Fatherland because such low regional rates resulted in unfair competition for the Fatherland

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Anonymous Coward

Re: harmonizing of corporate tax

Why not, to a degree? Perhaps the EU could set wide-ish bands applicable to various standard kinds of taxes, and the member states could decide where they want to sit within the band. So perhaps Ireland could set itself at the lower level, but the banding would be such that while it gave them some advantage, it wouldn't seem to be "disproportionate" (whatever that means). Likewise with sales taxes etc. Might be quite tricky to implement though.

Personally, I'd like to see the EU just define standard tax mechanisms, so that all affected tax calculations would be the same across the EU except for the differing state-selected rate; thus allowing transparent comparison of sales tax or corporation tax (or whatever) without demanding any specific percentage be applied. And states would be free to choose whether they wanted to opt in to the standards-compliant tax mechanisms, but perhaps with some suitably moderate carrot in place to encourage takeup. It would probably never be perfect, given differences in law between countries, but still provide long-term benefits.

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Re: harmonizing of corporate tax

If Germany were to decide that there was no VAT payable on cars and setup a scheme so German cars anywhere in europe could be officially "bought" in Germany - I imagine some British politicians with a car plant in their back yard might object.

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This may be a subjective impression, but Germany seems to take a healthy attitude to intellectual property, including declining to be infected with US-style massive patent abuse. For them to get frustrated at other countries licking the boots of patent trolls seems entirely consistent.

But I guess for them to say so is about as useful as the people who warned ten years ago of the banking bubble. Noone thanks you for taking away someone's fun, no matter how dangerous or damaging it may be.

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Anonymous Coward

if only they took the same healthy attitude to other types of property. Cypriot bank accounts that were supposedly guaranteed but were invaded anyway, for example.

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Germany musnt have many

Is this the same Germany that's crippling half of Europe's smaller countries by basically controlling the value of the Euro; I can only assume they're against it as they're not currently able to take advantage of it for whatever reasons.

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Re: Germany musnt have many

The southern mostly Catholic half of Europe made their own bed by using Germany's strength and name to allow them to borrow money they normally couldn't for their politicians to spend on patronage.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Germany musnt have many

What about the Catholic half of Germany? There are slightly more Catholics in Germany than Protestants.

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Re: Germany musnt have many

According to the east germans I worked with Bavaria is not really Germany (main Catholic region). Sometimes they would have to put subtitles on the TV news whenever a Bavarian was speaking with their heavy accent. It was also amusing see how the east germans treated Merkel's party (Christian Democrats) whenever they would show their right wing (for Germans which means left of Democrats in US) faces in the area. But yes the Catholics in the Alps do tend to be much wealthier than any other Catholic region.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Germany musnt have many

I've worked in the West of Germany and they think the same there, one of my German friends tell's me they refer to something called the Weißwurst line which denotes you're in Bavaria (White Sausages are sold there!), and yes they have the same opinion of Bavarians as you found in the East of Germany "They don't talk German properly, they don't eat German food, Bavaria is not part of Germany" was a typical comment I heard.

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J P

http://www.accountancyage.com/aa/blog-post/2281392/colin-uk-tax-rules-patently-unfair-say-germans

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