back to article Oh, those crazy Frenchies: Facebook faces family photo tax in France

Facebook should pay the French government for hosting the holiday photos and status updates of the French people, a new report commissioned by the French government has suggested. The new 200-page report* on taxing the digital economy - commissioned by four French Cabinet Ministers - proposes that France should tax data …

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  1. FartingHippo
    Devil

    Great Idea

    I can see nothing at all that will go wrong with this plan. Not a thing. It is a perfect solution which will be implemented without incident.

    Vive la France!

    *cough*

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: Great Idea

      Absolutely. After all, it's easy to identfy photos of French holidaymakers. Or maybe not...

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/9170719/French-tourism-campaign-uses-photographs-of-South-African-beach.html

  2. EddieD

    I'm impressed

    As has been pointed out that with Google, Facebook etc, we're the product, so the idea of taxing these companies for the work we do (i.e. increasing their data store and therefore the value of the companies) is very attractive.

    No doubt the companies concerned though will pay for expensive lawyers to tie it up in the courts for ever and a day, and then weasel accountants to point out that the data is actually added in Ulan Bator therefore it doesn't count as work in France, and the companies will continue to export their profits and import losses.

    Zut alors, or more likely, merde alors.

    1. nigel 15
      Facepalm

      Re: I'm impressed

      We are the product. fine. so why should there be a special tax?

      You tax apple growers when they sell their apples, not when they take them from the tree.

      the french would tax mud.

      1. Andrew Moore Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: I'm impressed

        "Let them tax cake!"

        1. FartingHippo
          Alert

          Re: I'm impressed

          That would be "gateau", mon ami.

          1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
            Trollface

            Re: I'm impressed

            Le gâteau est un mensonge!

            If you tax it, it can no longer be found.

          2. Flatpackhamster

            Re: I'm impressed

            Brioche, if we're referencing Marie Antoinette's question.

            1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

              Re: Marie Antoinette

              According to QI, it wasn't she who said it, it was around before she was born.

      2. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: the french would tax mud.

        If I were a pig, I'd tax mud.

      3. Lamont Cranston

        "You tax apple growers when they sell their apples, not when they take them from the tree."

        Pretty sure that the apple growers wouldn't be able to move all their apples to Switzerland (or wherever it is that facebook chooses to do business from) before selling them.

        Besides which, wages (and Income Tax) would constitute collecting revenue on picking the apples.

        1. Medical Cynic

          Re: "You tax apple growers when they sell their apples, not when they take them from the tree."

          They wouldn't need to send them abroad - they are already paid for by CAP subsidy!

          William

      4. NogginTheNog
        FAIL

        Re: I'm impressed

        At least they're trying to think of ways to squeeze back some of the billions spirited away by those canny (mainly North American?) Internet companies.

        We just say harsh words to their employees at a select committee hearing. That'll teach 'em!

    2. Don Jefe

      Re: I'm impressed

      You are being compensated through free access to their products.

      There's no problem with that. If you don't like it just don't use the services. You certainly aren't forced to use ANY of the free services out there.

      1. Capitalist_Swine

        Re: I'm impressed

        Saying "If you don't like it just don't use the services" is comparable to saying if you don't like driving laws, then don't drive. 100 years ago, driving might have been a privilege and an unnecessary luxury of the well-to-do, but that is no longer the case. Unless you live in an urban area, in order to be competitive in current times, to gain a job, to keep that job, and to buy food you need to be able to drive. Legally it still considered a privilege, and not a right. But could any first world country survive at its current level of output and sustainability if all the automobiles were removed? Of course not, too much of our current social processes have been built on the assumption of the ability to drive as a default. The internet is the same thing. We have ingrained too much of our personal and professional processes of our lives on the assumption that the ability to communicate via the internet is a given. Without that standard in place, it would herald a complete restructuring of present first world society.

        Therefore you can't just say "if yer don't like da interweb rulez, then jus don't use it like"

        MORE TO THE POINT about your comment on google and free content:

        First, there is no escaping google. Google collects information about you personal details, and your habits through sites that have no connection of ownership to google. Run Ghostery, and allow the blocker bubble to be visible, then surf around and see just how many seemingly random sites are collecting information for google. So to "not use google" would be like not using the internet.

        Second, free content does not warrant free rape of anything and everything in return. Google is free because it has to be, not in exchange for user data. If google started charging membership fees, its usage would dry up and it would collapse. Google may rattle is saber all it wants about how it NEEDS to pimp out your data in order to pay its bills all it wants. But its obvious that a free for user model is its only available business model. Its profits may be reduced if increased user protections were put in place, but they wouldn't go starving.

        In summation:

        You're a moron. And your argument is even more moronic.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tax Laws

    I though the general consensus on http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/01/22/hmrc_foi/ (and the raft of comments saying how the UK couldnt make new tax laws etc) was that countries cant decide to make new tax laws? (rather than the explicit statement that countries cant lower taxes below a minimum threshold which the legislation seems to state)

    Is this different now?

    Confused, Tonbridge Wells.

    1. countd
      Headmaster

      Re: Tax Laws

      "Confused, Tonbridge Wells" . Is that Royal Tunbridge Wells, or Tonbridge?

      Confused, London

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It may be crazy...

    ...but if these greedy tax avoiding companies actually paid a fair amount in the first place then the craziness wouldn't be needed.

    1. Bod

      Re: It may be crazy...

      If you had a little business selling stuff on (for example) ebay and some of the buyers were in France, you wouldn't expect to pay French corporation tax despite being located in the UK and legally paying all UK taxes!

      1. cortland

        Re: It may be crazy...

        NOBODY expects the... never mind!

    2. Matt Bryant Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: Mahatma Coat - It may be crazy...

      "...but if these greedy tax avoiding companies actually paid a fair amount in the first place then the craziness wouldn't be needed." So who gets to say what is "fair"? An impartial expert on commerce, or some dozy European socialist politician that needs to fund the latest bailout for Greece due to the vote-buying policies of said socialist politicians? It's pretty obvious from your previous posts that you think the latter is just fine as it is a "greedy", capitalist, Yankee company doing the paying.

      1. Steven Roper
        Mushroom

        Re: What is fair?

        What is fair is that these fat bastards pay the same amount of fucking tax that you or I do. If corporations are going to have the rights of human beings, they can damn well accept the responsibilities that go with them.

        Living in Australia, I pay 16 - 20% of my salary in income tax, without even considering the 11% GST I pay on everything I buy. The article states that the likes of Amazon, Google and Apple make around 2.5 to 3 billion euro a year and pay an average tax of only 4 million euro. That's 0.13 to 0.16 percent tax.

        I earn just enough to live on, and I'm paying a fifth of my salary in tax. These fat "greedy capitalists" you refer to make more than they know what to do with, and they're paying LESS THAN A FUCKING HUNDREDTH of that.

        If that sounds fair to you, I can only say that would make you someone I'd never want to meet.

        1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
          FAIL

          Re: Steve Dopier Re: What is fair?

          "What is fair is that these fat bastards pay the same amount of fucking tax that you or I do....." Sorry if no-one explained it to you, but the employees of those "fat bastard capitalist companies" actually pay income tax on their earnings just like everyone else, and the top bods pay MORE tax than you because they are on higher rates of tax than you. The shareholders pay tax when they liquidate their share holdings, and the companies pay tax on stuff they purchase (such as buildings, etc.) with the profits they make. So quit repeating the dogma you've been spoonfed, it's just the vitriolic politics of envy. In the case of the UK:

          "The top 1% of income earners in the Uk pay 28% of the total income tax take. As they earn 13% of all the income, that means they pay twice as big a share of the tax as their share of the income. The bottom half of all earners in the UK pay 10% of the total income tax. The sum they pay in total is less than the amount paid out in Housing Benefit, which goes to this wide group of people."

          1. Steven Roper
            FAIL

            Re: Steve Dopier What is fair?

            I'd respond to your post, Matt, if I believed you capable of understanding the response. But the last time somebody mangled my surname in a pathetic insult like that was when I was 12. Fucking grow up.

            1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
              FAIL

              Re: Even Dopier Re: Steve Dopier What is fair?

              "I'd respond to your post, Matt, if I believed you capable of understanding the response...." What, Socialist Weekly doesn't have a section on dealing with objections? Oh, I forgot, you're not allowed to object or have an opinion of your own amongst The Herd Of The Faithful. We really need a sheeple icon for the deluded like you that can only unquestioningly bleat what they are told to bleat.

              "....But the last time somebody mangled my surname in a pathetic insult like that was when I was 12....." That was probably the last time you mixed with someone that had an opinion of their own. TBH, I'm rather disappointed, I've always found Aussies I've met to be a bit too motivated and capable for the socialist mantra, but then I suppose that just goes to show the ones with the ability have long-since left Oz.

              "......Fucking grow up." Or what, you'll thream and thream until you go blue? Looks like there is zero chance of you actually posting any form of coherent argument so here's to your imminent self-Smurfing. If you wish to be shown any respect try posting something to add to the discussion rather than the new chorus from the green-eyed monster uberloser set.

      2. strum Silver badge

        Re: Mahatma Coat - It may be crazy...

        >So who gets to say what is "fair"?

        That's what governments are for.

  5. Mike Brown

    does that mean

    I can put google and facebook on my CV as employers?

    this seems a rather silly way to grab some cash

  6. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. S4qFBxkFFg

      Re: I'm sorry...

      Or, they might just ignore it.

      Any French judge would need the very best of luck to get any Google employee of note sent across the Atlantic.

      I don't think actually blocking it would work either - someone would quickly coin the phrase "Maginot Firewall" as the blocks are sidestepped easily.

    2. JDX Gold badge

      Re: I'm sorry...

      Why would companies leave France if they are still making profit after the new taxes?

      1. Greg J Preece

        Re: I'm sorry...

        Why would companies leave France if they are still making profit after the new taxes?

        Because if France get away with it, then other tax-loving countries (like ours) will follow suit. Our public are currently acting in a fashion that seems demented to me; flat out demanding taxation from the government. They could totally put this into action here.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          WTF?

          Re: I'm sorry...

          This govt. tax multinationals - as if.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Boffin

          Re: I'm sorry...

          "Our public are currently acting in a fashion that seems demented to me; flat out demanding taxation from the government. "

          Quite the opposite. The public is demanding that their taxation be reduced by collecting the missing billions from multi-nationals using fraudulent companies. Every penny Vodafone avoids is a penny we have to pay in their place.

          1. John 172
            FAIL

            Re: I'm sorry...

            @Robert Long 1:

            "Quite the opposite. The public is demanding that their taxation be reduced by collecting the missing billions from multi-nationals using fraudulent companies. Every penny Vodafone avoids is a penny we have to pay in their place."

            So where does vodafone get it's money from? Oh yes, that's right, you! So is taxing companies more a good thing? NO, it'll just result in more inflation.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: I'm sorry...

              "So where does vodafone get it's money from? Oh yes, that's right, you! So is taxing companies more a good thing? NO, it'll just result in more inflation."

              Don't be so stupid.

              Vodafone don't get any money off me as I'm not a customer. You're saying that everyone in the country should subsidize Vodafone (and Amazon etc) regardless of whether they use their products or not.

              1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
                Stop

                Re: Robert Long 1 Re: I'm sorry...

                "......You're saying that everyone in the country should subsidize Vodafone (and Amazon etc)....." Please do explain how you or anyone else is "subsidizing" Vodafone or Amazon? Where the make use of public utilities they pay for them with business rates. When they but property or equipment for their offices they pay for it with money just like other companies and taxes on those purchases. If the politicians can't extract enough tax from such companies then they need to change the tax laws, but to suggest they are being subsidized is simply untrue.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Robert Long 1 I'm sorry...

                  ""......You're saying that everyone in the country should subsidize Vodafone (and Amazon etc)....." Please do explain how you or anyone else is "subsidizing" Vodafone or Amazon?"

                  If a company is paid by people not using its services then what else can you call it but a subsidy? Not being charged for something is the same as being paid, and Vodafone for one is not being charged the tax they themselves thought they were due. That means that everyone who is paying their tax is supporting Vodafone whether they are customers or not.

                  I don't see what's difficult to understand about that.

                  "If the politicians can't extract enough tax from such companies then they need to change the tax laws"

                  Or, enforce the ones we have equally regardless of who the tax-payer is or how many dinners at the Ritz they buy for the head of HMRC.

                  1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
                    WTF?

                    Re: Re: Robert Long 1 I'm sorry...

                    ".....If a company is paid by people not using its services then what else can you call it but a subsidy?...." You still failed to produce an example of this. Are you claiming Voda or any of these other target companies charged non-customers for a service that wasn't used by that customer? Please supply some form of evidence such as a link to an article to support this claim.

                    "....Not being charged for something is the same as being paid...." Not really, that's actually like saying if I skip out on paying a dinner bill I've somehow taken extra money out of the restaurant till. Sure, they have lost money on the bill I did not pay, but I have not stolen extra on top. You are trying to make one offence into something twice as bad. Again, if you think that is the case, please supply some details.

                    "....and Vodafone for one is not being charged the tax they themselves thought they were due...." Tax due is calculate by the HM Revenue & Customs, not Voda. When contracting an accountant and I often thought I should be paying a certain amount of tax only for HMRC to disagree (on one happy occasion asking for less and twice others later coming back and admitting they had asked for too much!). Voda may think they actually should have paid more or they may just have said that for the press, but the reality is the Government sets the tax laws and HMRC collects the tax, so if they are not asking Voda for more at the time then Voda are in the clear as long as they have not illegally hidden information from HMRC. So, are you accusing Voda or any of the other companies of illegal tax evasion or of HMRC illegally colluding in tax evasion? Again, please do supply some evidence, otherwise I'll just have to assume it's just groundless bleating.

                    1. Anonymous Coward
                      Anonymous Coward

                      Re: Robert Long 1 I'm sorry...

                      "You still failed to produce an example of this. Are you claiming Voda or any of these other target companies charged non-customers for a service that wasn't used by that customer?"

                      They were given a government subsidy in the form of being let off a huge whack of the tax that Vodafone thought they were due. The charge was indirect, but all the more of a subsidy because it was given by the government and thus we had no choice in the matter.

                      "....Not being charged for something is the same as being paid...." Not really, that's actually like saying if I skip out on paying a dinner bill I've somehow taken extra money out of the restaurant till.

                      No. Firstly, that's just inherently different because you're focusing on the restaurant, I'm saying that in a case like that YOU have effectively been paid because you have received goods without paying for them. Secondly, even if we were talking about the restaurant, it would still be different because it brings in questions of Wholesale and Retail. But I suspect you knew that and were trying to confuse the issue.

                      "So, are you accusing Voda or any of the other companies of illegal tax evasion or of HMRC illegally colluding in tax evasion? "

                      Yes. That's exactly what I'm accusing them of. Corruption of a public servant. Specifically of Dave Hartnett.

                      I'm not going to indulge your childish pretence of innocence any further, Matt. You know fine well what this is all in reference to, so stop being a dick.

      2. Chris Hawkins
        Linux

        Re: I'm sorry...

        This has already happened in the low-cost airline sector.

        A couple of years ago, St. Michael of O'Leary closed Paddyair's bases in France because the French Govt. went after Ryanair's staff employment contracts which I understand were drafted under Irish law. Several, until then, very lucrative and useful internal routes were lost, as were local jobs, and of course, nos amis francaises had to revert to travelling on the relatively expensive TGV. (owned by the French Govt.) Unlike, the UK, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Romania where there are excellent networks of intercity bus routes, there are very few or none, within France. Consequently, if you look at a map of low-cost flight/travel routes in France, they are, in the majority, from French airports to external destinations. Compared with the rest of Europe, France, internally, is like a big black hole.

        That is what is going to happen with the web in France if they carry on with this proposal. I have no problems about Governments' seeking reasonable tax revenues, but the Elysee has really got to understand that the time has come to open up the French digital (and general) economy, or more and more potential investors will avoid the country like the plague and existing ones will close down operations.

        L'affaire Depardieu has already proved that!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I'm sorry...

          ref. excellent intercity bus routes in Germany, they don't exist. They're nearly extinct. Yeah, you see an occasional Eurolines coach sneaking along a motorway, from Poland to the UK, but that's about it. Ah, well, plus those coach services operated by Deutsche Bahn, natuerlich!

          As to Romania... well, it's a country with a stunning scenery, but modern roads and modern long-distance coaches are not something they would have plenty of :)

          1. Chris Hawkins
            Linux

            Re: I'm sorry...

            Regards Romania, I have to disagree!

            Have been there and used such services. (Roads are another story!) Point being there are plenty low cost transport services to choose from.

            As regards Germany, I would have agreed with your comments until a few days ago when I came across:

            https://www.berlinlinienbus.de

            http://www.deinbus.de/

            http://www.reisebus24.de/

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I'm sorry...

          useful internal routes were lost

          But if it's Ryanair then a flight from say Paris to Marseilles probably took and landed at Calais.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I'm sorry...

          Ryanair's behaviour is (fortunately or otherwise) not normally an indicator of how sane, rational companies behave.

          If I was running a company making $2bn a year in France, and the French government passed a law increasing my tax burden from £50m to £500m, I would still be making £1.5bn profit and I hope any attempt I made to close down this massive profit stream by leaving the country would be blocked by the board and I would be shipped off to a lunatic asylum.

          It wouldnt even matter if other countries joined in as long as the profit of doing business in that country remained, it would be sensible to remain.

          Now if the French tax impacted my ability to make profit in (for example) Germany, then it would be another matter - however, this doesnt appear to be what the French are proposing.

          The reverse of the argument is true - the French government are faced with providing national infrastructure and support to a company that retains a significant proportion of its profits off-shore and out of the hands of the country providing it. So, from France's point of view, it may be a valid argument that if Amazon (or whoever) leaves, the resulting black hole will be filled by local companies who pay more in taxes - Amazon (or whoever) leaving ends up being a net benefit to the economy, if not directly to the public who may well pay more for some items.

          The services Amazon (and the rest) provide are massively profitable so it makes sense for local providers to pick up the slack when they sulk and stop doing business in France. Some may even develop enough skill and local support that they can then challenge Amazon (and the rest) elsewhere.

          BTW: In reality, if intercity flight routes in France were lucrative, other airlines would have picked them up by now and be making good money. The sad fact is they were only lucrative by shafting the employees and passengers.

          1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

            Re: I'm sorry...

            "BTW: In reality, if intercity flight routes in France were lucrative, other airlines would have picked them up by now and be making good money. The sad fact is they were only lucrative by shafting the employees and passengers."

            Some have, others have gone to heavily subsidized TGV routes, so only the French taxpayer gets shafted.

          2. Richard Plinston Silver badge

            Re: I'm sorry...

            > BTW: In reality, if intercity flight routes in France were lucrative, other airlines would have picked them up by now and be making good money.

            Airline routes can only be run by airlines if they get a _licence_ to do so. No airline can just stick a plane at an airport and start selling tickets.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: I'm sorry...

              @Richard Plinston

              Airline routes can only be run by airlines if they get a _licence_ to do so. No airline can just stick a plane at an airport and start selling tickets.

              Erm, who said anything different to that?

              The point as I read it was that if the Ryanair routes had been so lucrative (given that the argument was Ryanair was miffed at a tax increase and surrendered a profitable business in protest), which means that any other airline would have been able to pick up the business and make a profit.

              Of course they need operating licences and the like, but that is part of their business - if they dont know how to go about getting that, then they shouldnt be an airline.

              Alternatively, the routes arent particularly profitable (for whatever reason) and Ryanair simply wanted to be able to make a protest while retreating from a loss.

        4. Gavin McMenemy

          Re: I'm sorry...

          Unlike, the UK, ... where there are excellent networks of intercity bus routes, there are very few or none, within France.

          I can't speak for France but this idea that the UK has excellent bus links is hilarious. Well done you!

        5. captain veg

          idTGV

          There is a low-cost version of TGV. You can only book tickets online, and they can be as cheap as 20 euros all-in. No extra charges for baggage or the cheek of actually trying to pay with a card. And, of course, you arrive in the town you actually want to go to.

          Ryanair no loss.

          -A.

          1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

            Re: idTGV

            We used idTGV to book tickets from Paris to Toulouse and back last summer. Both sets of first class tickets for less than second class London to Edinburgh, and very comfortable. I'd recommend it to anyone with the option travelling long distances in France.

      3. Tom 35 Silver badge

        Why would companies leave France

        To set an example?

        They don't want every other country to copy the tax. What they lost in France would be less then what it would cost if other countries copy the tax.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @ Tom 35

          They don't want every other country to copy the tax. What they lost in France would be less then what it would cost if other countries copy the tax.

          Not necessarily.

          If they are still profitable in each country, then it doesnt matter.

          If other countries copy the tax, they can treat each country on a case by case basis and decide if it worth staying. If it isn't they leave and local businesses try to fill the gap.

          There is no automatic right to succeed or trade just because the company is an internet giant.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: @ Tom 35

            > There is no automatic right to succeed or trade just because the company is an internet giant.

            I was with you right until that point.

            In this case, they are talking about increasing the tax burden of one particular type of company because the government has decided that they don't pay enough tax. I know if I was a wine maker and the government decided to increase the tax they take from wine makers specifically by a factor of 10, I would be pretty miffed. It smacks of victimisation which is really outside the remit of any government, although they do do it from time to time.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: @ Tom 35

              I know if I was a wine maker and the government decided to increase the tax they take from wine makers specifically by a factor of 10, I would be pretty miffed.

              I cant argue with that and nothing I was saying was there to imply that what the French government were doing was "morally" justified (although moral taxes is a totally different argument).

              The reality is any business has to trade in an environment set by the country in which they operate. Frequently laws are changed which make one business model no longer acceptable and businesses have a choice of either changing, moving or closing.

              If you ran a company which sold wine internationally, you might be pretty miffed that it is really hard advertising your products in Saudi, and in the UK we might all agree that it is a barking mad approach, but in reality it is just the business operating environment.

              In this example, yes, Farcebook et al, might be pretty miffed at the increase in tax, and they might (rightly) feel it is unjust and a way of taxing a particular type of company (but this happens in lots of other ways anyway) but if the French government changes it tax in this manner, they have a simple choice - sacrifice their profits in a sulky protest, or accept the increased cost of doing business.

              Obviously when the increased cost outweighs the profit, then the choice becomes clear, but until then, profit is profit.

          2. roselan
            FAIL

            Re: @ Tom 35

            so, at the end, the tax is paid by the customer.

            It means that this tax subsidize other sectors. By example, traditional media, up 1-2b, very close to the government.

            More than distorting fair competition or at best helping local industries, this shows off, once more, the deep and weaved level of corruption in the french government.

      4. Freimer

        Re: I'm sorry...

        They would leave because even if they still made a profit, they could likely make more of a profit elsewhere, for the same effort. There comes a time where taxes are high enough that it is just not worth the effort to continue to work.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I'm sorry...

          They would leave because even if they still made a profit, they could likely make more of a profit elsewhere, for the same effort. There comes a time where taxes are high enough that it is just not worth the effort to continue to work.

          Not sure that makes sense.

          Try it with the numbers.

          If they can make 2bn euros in France while paying 50m tax, they are making 1.95bn profit. If the tax rises to 500m they would be making 1.5bn profit.

          If they can make 1.5001bn profit elsewhere, then why not do that as well as get the 1.5bn profit in France. This isnt an argument for shutting down a massively profitable service.

          The whole point of these webservice companies is that they can deliver services for the same costs anywhere so the effort of working in France is effectively transparent when it is related to working in (say) Portugal, Spain, Holland, Thailand etc.

          Profit is profit. Less profit is still more than no profit.

          Now if the tax was 2.000001bn euros then, of course, they would cease operating in France. But I havent seen that suggested.

    3. Barrie Shepherd
      Happy

      Re: I'm sorry...

      czsaloco writes; "If France keeps this up they'll find themselves shut off to the modern world as companies refuse to talk to them anymore"

      That is probably what the french government raelly want - it would halt the dilution of the french language/culture/way of life/values etc.

    4. sabroni Silver badge

      Re: FaceBook has chosen to not be unavailable in your country

      so what's the problem?

      1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: sabroni Re: FaceBook has chosen to not be unavailable in your country

        Seeing as Facesbook is about the same as digital pollution I'd be quite happy if it got killed off in the UK.

    5. Nuno
      Childcatcher

      Re: I'm sorry...

      they can always switch back to Minitel...

  7. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  8. Chris Miller

    "Google, Apple and Amazon make between €2.5bn and €3bn apiece in revenue from France. However the average tax paid by each company is €4m a year, instead of the €500m in corporation tax they'd pay if they were French companies."

    I'd love to know how these figures were calculated. If I view a Google ad for a Korean company placed on my UK screen by a server in Ireland (or Poland or Kazakhstan), where should the revenue be allocated? And do French companies really pay 20% of their revenues in tax (or is that actually VAT)?

    1. JetSetJim Silver badge
      Happy

      you forgot to hop through a French proxy in that chain to land "in France".

    2. Bod

      I'd assume the €4m tax reference is the tax they pay in France. What all these "look, they're avoiding taxes!" rants often fail to point out is they're only (and legally) avoiding or rather minimising taxes in a particular country but still pay taxes elsewhere. Google, Facebook etc of course are paying plenty of taxes in the US and their European based counterparts pay taxes in the most tax efficient part of Europe, which they are entitled to do under our ideal of a free market in Europe and are required to do so for their shareholders.

      And besides anyone at all can trade with another country and may have to pay local taxes for the trades but you don't pay corp tax if you don't have a business there.

      1. frank 3

        and they past huge amounts of tax in Bermuda...

        And the fortunes of the richest 100 people in the world increased by $2.4bn EACH last year.

        But of course, they paid their fair share in tax, right?

        Oh dear, seems not. No-one actually knows how much money is held permanently offshore in tax havens, but I've seen estimates ranging from about 10 Trillion to about 32 Trillion.

        http://www.oxfam.org/sites/www.oxfam.org/files/cost-of-inequality-oxfam-mb180113.pdf

    3. Anonymous Dutch Coward
      Pint

      Good point.

      Stuff like that is exactly what keeps bureaucrats, tax law specialists, economists, diplomats etc in cushy jobs, committees figuring it out, trying to set up treaties etc.

      Beer because I need it only thinking about this.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Simpler option

    A simpler option when faced with tax avoidance in the complex world of accountancy rules would be to replace corporation tax with a tax on turnover, maybe just for turnover above £1M or equivalent. If you assume that a typical business should make around 10% profit, then tax at 2% turnover instead of 20% on profit, etc.

    OK, it is kind of unfair that high-profit entities pay less on the earnings, and those below 1% profit are going to be heading for bankruptcy (though to be fair if you can't make 1% profit then it looks grim anyway).

    1. Chris Miller

      Re: Simpler option

      Many successful retailers make ~1% profit on turnover - John Lewis for example. In reality, it would just be added to the sale price - we could call it VAT for simplicity.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Chris Miller

        My apologies, I had not realised the margins were that thin even for a successful retailer.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      FAIL

      Re: Simpler option...

      ...but a stupid one.

      Take you are aware very few businesses make any profit for the first few years (maybe as long as 5 years), of course you are, because you've done some research on the subject before posting?

      So whack on a turnover tax and 99% of those would die in the within first year.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Simpler option...

        "Take you are aware very few businesses make any profit for the first few years (maybe as long as 5 years), of course you are, because you've done some research on the subject before posting?

        So whack on a turnover tax and 99% of those would die in the within first year"

        In those 5 years the company isn't living off air, it's burning money. Put a small tax on the relatively small turnover they'll have at the start and they'll just burn money slightly faster. If that puts you out of business, then tough shit. I'm not paying my taxes to give your business ideas a free ride.

    3. HollyHopDrive

      Re: Simpler option

      I think the rule would need to be slightly more sophisticated. But in principle.....

      How about where the company is UK based only (no parent companies) they can pay corp tax as they do now. (Probably need a turnover limit too)

      Where they are international no more than x% of foreign costs (defined by business type) can be tax deductible. (For example coffee may be 20% but steel 60%). Any non physical goods 0% and the product has to physically pass into the country so server hosting is out!

      Tax should be paid when the payment is issued from for the product or service. For example if marks and Spencer advertise uk products on you tube and pay Google 1m from their London office then that is taxable here from Google . If they pay from France then it's taxable in France. However, if m&s decide to do that then m&s UK then can't claim tax relief on the £1 they would have been cross charged from the France part of the business. Either way collect 200k of tax.

      Probably a flaw and may be difficult to legislate but something along those lines must be do able

    4. M7S

      Re: Simpler option

      Alas no. I work part time for a specialist finance company, and dare I say it in terms of capitalism, one of the good guys.

      We obtain funding from banks at a margin over Libor and finance international trade at a few basis points over that. Our turnover is hundreds of millions per annum, our profit is the difference between the two rates, less our expenses (staff, offices, IT kit and no, we don't pay telephone number salaries or bonuses) and amounts to a couple of million a year. Its a profitable business within reason but the simplistic approach would end us at a stroke, or mean that we'd have to be passing on much higher costs to our customers, who in turn would have to do the same to theirs.

      I suspect that many other operations in other sectors (small retailers, farmers etc) would have similar issues. That said, you're quite correct in that the entire tax system needs simplification.

    5. Flatpackhamster

      Re: Simpler option

      So what happens if you make a loss in one year? Still got to pay your tithe to the massa in de ole plantation?

      Honestly, these threads on tax, do you all come over from the Guardian website?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Flatpackhamster

        I think you will find you still have to pay your employer's NI contribution, and your rates and VAT, etc, even if you don't make a profit.

        Taxation is all about taking your money for the common good.

        The main arguments are about what the "common good" should be (often politically driven), and just how do you distribute that cost fairly. What we now see are Byzantine tax laws that allow the biggest of company to legally avoid paying a fair share, while smaller companies and individuals end up paying more to make up for that.

        There may be no simple option, but something simpler and fairer HAS to be possible.

  10. ratfox Silver badge
    Devil

    Honest laws

    I think that governments in general should state honestly what is the purpose of the laws. Creating a tax on data, and justifying it by saying the users are workers collecting valuable information for the company sounds more like insane troll logic than anything else. They might as well come out and say honestly, we are taxing you people because we need the money and you can afford it.

    The French government seems adept at these disingenuous justifications. E.g: The law which forbids people from covering their face in public is claimed to be a matter of security, and not at all a way to push Muslim integration by stopping the practice of wearing a veil. Never mind that the same law prescribes especially harsh punishment for a person who forces other people to cover their face, like a Muslim husband might do to his wives and daughters. Relation to security: None.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Honest laws

      Turkey also forbids the veil, even though the population is mostly moslem.

      1. ratfox Silver badge

        Re: Honest laws

        Yes, but they say directly why they forbid it, i.e. because they want a secular and modern country. They don't make bullshit claims about it being a matter of security.

        1. DrXym Silver badge

          Re: Honest laws

          "Yes, but they say directly why they forbid it, i.e. because they want a secular and modern country. They don't make bullshit claims about it being a matter of security."

          France has been secular for over 100 years now and has laws to that effect. In fact their first tussles were predominantly with Roman Catholics because the state seized all their churches and the religion only supervises their use now. Muslims may feel aggrieved and perhaps security was one excuse / reason but it's really nothing new in that country.

    2. MrXavia
      Holmes

      Re: Honest laws

      I've always found it interesting that a mulsim woman can wonder around an airport with their whole body covered, head to toe, yet if I walked in there in motorcycle leathers & helmet, I would likely be approached by armed security and if I was lucky politely asked to remove my helmet...

      Maybe its my age, but I was always taught that you should remove hats when inside, and I would not allow anyone inside my house who had a face covering, or even open the door...

  11. Tringle

    I'm terrible sorry for the inconvenience

    But here in La Belle we have a government of unreconstructed 1950s socialists and communist. They are, to a man (and woman, and especially the greens) away with the fairies, but alas they did a good job convincing the electorate that they were nice cuddly socialists à la Tony Blair (bad enough I hear you shriek, but they had to get rid of the nymphomaniac midget).

    So I am afraid with have got another 3 years or so of this kind of idiocy before normal service is resumed. Whatever that is.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'm terrible sorry for the inconvenience

      In France, socialist idiocy is normal service (I live there). The midget was a brief period of sanity. Arrogant, nacissistic, Napoleonic sanity, true, but sanity nonetheless.

    2. frank ly Silver badge

      Re: I'm terrible sorry for the inconvenience - Just wondering ...

      " ...nymphomaniac midget."

      Where can I find pictures of her on the internet?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'm terrible sorry for the inconvenience

      So I am afraid with have got another 3 years or so of this kind of idiocy before normal service is resumed. Whatever that is.

      Is there a reason why you cant move to a country with politics more in keeping with your own?

  12. JDX Gold badge

    The report argues that tax hasn't caught up with the digital economy

    This is the one part I can agree with.

  13. g e
    Pint

    Fantastic!

    Can I at once urge all our French cousins to upload *shitloads* of pics to facebook. Thousands, please.

    In other news, short Failbook stock now

    Biere pour tout, parce-que je n'ai plus du vin :o(

    1. Chris Miller
      Headmaster

      Re: Fantastic!

      je n'ai plus de vin, SVP.

      Tu es Miles Kington et je claim mon €5.

      1. g e
        Happy

        Re: Fantastic!

        Super! Maintenant je ne dois pas penser pour une autre microsecond si on dit 'du' ou 'de'!

        Merci, mon professeur!

        "After expressions of quantity, the partitive is usually reduced to DE which is invariable:"

        1. Chris Miller
          Happy

          De rien.

  14. Silverburn
    Coat

    Google and Facebook have not yet responded to our request for comment on the report

    ..they were too busy laughing at the lunacy of it all...?

  15. Valeyard
    Pirate

    economy plan

    France's new plan is a perl script which uploads 2000 jpgs of random images per minute to random sock puppet facebook accounts

    watch the tax come rolling in!

    1. billse10
      Pirate

      Re: economy plan

      don't forget that Perl script, as used in a commercial context, would have to be in French.

      If Facebook / Google got any sense, they'll simply open a specific subsidiary for handling French customers. Then put a line item in it's accounts of 99% turnover for complying with silly language laws (Toubon etc), and make sure the French subsidiary actually makes a loss. Oh, and make sure it has no employees or physical assets.

      Or just charge French subscribers, and wait for French politicians to scream about EU single market etc - even though France itself is one of the biggest obstacles to the proper implementation of that single market.

  16. Tim Worstal

    I've talked to one of these Colins

    I wrote about this tax elsewhere. And ended up being emailed by a rather pissed off Frog.

    The gist of his argument was actually this:

    We can't tax these bastards any other way (EU rules, Single Market, OECD Double Taxation treaties and all the rest) so we'll make something up and see if it flies.

    That really is it. The taxing data thing is purely and simply because the law doesn't currently prevent them from doing so.

    1. billse10
      Megaphone

      Re: I've talked to one of these Colins

      read your other article, and am not surprised you got that sort of response - not because of article itself, that simply points out the folly of the scam. Sorry, scheme.

      If your correspondent were more honest she/he would've said "we have very few home-grown global Internet champions, because our legislation about languages, working hours and so on could not have be better designed to prevent startups that have even a dream of going global, so let's just try to tax everyone else's - sod EU law about cross-border trade, the only bits of EU law that apply to us are the ones we want. Now the cherry-picking of EU law is wrong, the British must not be allowed to suggest it, we don't do that.

      We just choose which bits we want to enforce and which bits we want to ignore, completely different thing."

  17. Number6

    Merde?

    Yes, I checked the date and it isn't April 1st. Nice idea, but it's not going to fly. Either FaceBook will refuse connections from French IP addresses or they'll start charging French users for access to offset the tax, or the French Ts and Cs will make the users liable to foot the tax bill on behalf of FaceBook.

    Or they'll just ignore it, in which case we need to introduce their management to that quaint English gesture that was supposed to have originated from battles against the French, namely the two-fingered salute.

  18. Longrod_von_Hugendong
    Mushroom

    Mind you...

    If the companies threaten not to pay, the french will surrender anyway, so problem solved.

  19. Ponmyword
    Paris Hilton

    French socialists ...

    even crazier than British ones.

    "If you drive a car, I'll tax the street,

    If you try to sit, I'll tax your seat.

    If you get too cold I'll tax the heat,

    If you take a walk, I'll tax your feet.

    Don't ask me what I want it for

    If you don't want to pay some more

    'Cause I'm the taxman, yeah, I'm the taxman"

    George Harrison et al.

    Paris because ...

  20. The Mole

    Workers...

    So if anybody who uploads pictures in France is considered a worker then presumably this means they are a worker and it would be illegal under the working time directive for them to be on facebook more than 35 hours a week. Under minimum wage laws presumably Facebook would also have to pay their users/'workers' €9.40 each hour they spend uploading their 'product'...

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: Workers...

      You could consider that they are working off the watchful eye of the Great Taxator and so should be hammered for their impudence.

      I heard that the tax authorities went to amazon.fr for some protection money. Amazon told them to piss off because their revenues were basically transferred to the "mother company" in Luxembourg (a medium-sized office, I reckon), so the french tax authority couldn't put a bypass on the money flow. French tax authorities then went digging for data protection violations in the amazon.fr datastore, because, had they discovered them, the french CNIL would become involved and there is a law that in that case, the tax authorities get to have full control of the revenues. Don't know what became of that.

  21. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    Wasn't it Faraday who told a politician about electricity: I can't tell you what use it will be but I predict you will want to tax it.

  22. AbortRetryFail
    Joke

    Monty Python tax sketch

    Reminds me of the Monty Python sketch where they try to come up with new taxes.

    "I would tax all foreigners living abroad".

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It may or may not work...

    But hey - they are actively looking for a solution. Unlike some who are only quick to get their finger out of their asses to point and laugh, but who don't do much more than that.

    Or is it really perfectly normal that the biggest companies with the most revenues are able to pay 100 times less taxes than smaller, local companies?

    The fact is that the laws were made for brick-and-mortar businesses, or at least, ships-and-trucks, and that the digital economy was never envisioned.

    Saying it's all fine and dandy is ridiculous. Laws must evolve. Solutions will be tried, mistakes will be made, then hopefully corrected, and society will go forward. Doing nothing and patting oneself on the back because Google, or Microsoft, or whoever has promised you to Do No Evil does nothing to make the society able to evolve with the times.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: It may or may not work...

      > The fact is that the laws were made for brick-and-mortar businesses

      No the laws were made for civil servants, pork barrels and wars.

      There's one in Mali now, small fried compared to the war from 1914-1945 and the subsequent ones, but still...

  24. Kubla Cant Silver badge
    FAIL

    Good luck with that...

    Amazon, Starbucks, et al are companies that actually sell stuff that can be seen, felt and counted. In the latter case they even do it through retail outlets on the High Street. And governments still can't make them pay tax.

    So I don't hold out much hope for a big tax haul from companies that don't shift tangible product and store their stuff anywhere in the world that suits them.

  25. Atonnis
    Unhappy

    Two stages...

    My first thought was 'hah! that'd be funny'.

    Then I realised....if you tax data collection - particularly the way data collection is currently done these days - then you legitimise it. You are effectively saying 'yes, it's perfectly OK to shit on people and use any sort of scummy trick and tactic to eke out their personal info, as long as you leave the brown-bag on my desk and leave without a word'.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What, ONLY 200-pages?!

    Useless horse-meat gobbling French persons, I fart in your general direction! Give this job to our fine UK, gov-sponsored report-writers and when they start in June this year, they will have been into THOUSANDS of pages by Christmas, and not even out of the first chapter!

  27. Jason Hindle

    Anyone know how much the French market matters

    To Facebook, Twitter, Google and so on (not Amazon because they sell real stuff)? I'm guessing not an awful lot at all. I reckon it could be cheaper for them to pull out of the French market rather than pay this tax.

    I'm very much pro European BTW (at this point would happily vote yet at a referendum) but the rest of Europe gives itself an image problem with idiot ideas like this.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Anyone know how much the French market matters

      To Facebook, Twitter, Google and so on (not Amazon because they sell real stuff)? I'm guessing not an awful lot at all. I reckon it could be cheaper for them to pull out of the French market rather than pay this tax.

      Well if they are actually making over 2bn Euros, then no, it wont be cheaper.

      But if it is cheaper, then they can just leave and if there is sufficient profitability for local businesses to provide the service, they can do that - everyone wins.

      The more important question is it cheaper for the French government to subsidise the international brands (Farcebook, twatter, etc) or local businesses?

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The article is good, but is an opinion, not a fact report

    It uses the usual tricks that El Reg itself sometimes denounces of others. Like selective editing to make quotes look more silly than they really are:

    «This "free labour" was prefigured by business models from before the digital revolution: quiz shows, Tupperware parties, media financed by advertising, or reality TV. [Section 2.2.1, translated]»

    The full sentence is

    «This "free labour" was prefigured by business models from before the digital revolution: quiz shows, Tupperware parties, media financed by advertising, or reality TV are examples getting more or less close».

    Why remove 7 words, if not to improve the impression of silliness?

    And the paragraph right above that bit explains how companies are using unpaid clients' work to replace what was done before by employees, and reduce their workforce. Anybody here in favor of outsourcing local jobs abroad to cheap labor? No? Thought so.

    The funniest part is that a lot of their references are from Anglo-Saxons economists. It's not all taken out of thin air. I'm sure most commenters ridiculing those crazy Frenchies would actually agree with them a lot more if they would read the text instead of just an interestingly biased opinion of it.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: The article is good, but is an opinion, not a fact report

      > Anybody here in favor of outsourcing local jobs abroad to cheap labor

      Yes.

      > Thought so.

      What did you think exactly?

    2. CJ Bill
      Holmes

      Re: The article is good, but is an opinion, not a fact report

      Don't forget El Reg is, fundamentally a red top with the same instinct for bending reportage as it's Fleet Street cousins albeit without the same propensity for bunging brown envelopes to Inspector Knacker.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    1 - 1

    megacorp takes the piss: French govt reply in the same vein.

  30. disgruntled yank Silver badge

    "tax data like we tax pollution"

    Well, I've seen some pretty smoggy data

  31. Liam Thom
    WTF?

    All been done before.

    Auberon Waugh proposed something similar years ago for tabloid newspapers.

    He called it the Nipple Tax.

  32. arrbee
    Meh

    If they really want to tax these companies then surely it would be simpler to charge them on a per-local-user basis, e.g. 10 euro per bod per year. Then if they wished the companies could recover this by charging a fee.

    Maybe add an exemption for smaller organisations with fewer than x thousand users.

  33. DrXym Silver badge

    A clever idea

    If you can't get them to pay corporation tax, tax their data usage instead. It's perhaps too clever because tech giants are not known for being stupid and they'll probably find a way to work around this or palm the cost off on someone else like advertisers or end users.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Stop

      Re: A clever idea

      So an honest business who nicely and fairly pay taxes should pay excessively because they need to transfer huge data files to perform their business ? Obviously stupid.

      Tax monetary profits and/or revenue, not the "number of revolutions in the gearbox". Exceptions apply (Alcohol and fuel maybe), but the general principle is to tax based on money flows, not based on activity of machines or muscles.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Stop

        Re: A clever idea

        I should be more precise: Taxing "gearbox revoutions" or ("bits transferred") creates insane incentives and hurts or maybe even eliminates technological progress. That#s why I call it "stupid"

        We Europeans and Euro-colonists are exactly so rich because we somehow managed to nurture technological and business progress. If we want to become as dirt-poort as (oil-free) Arabs, we need to tax gearbox revolutions instead of the money made by (various numbers) of gearbox revolutions.

        If we can't properly tax Google, FB and Amazon at this point, the law must be changed and maybe the leeches such as Luxembourg, Ireland and Swittzerland must have the screws tightened. (No panzers required to achieve that end).

  34. Gav
    Megaphone

    Global vampires

    The responses to this idea in this forum are ample evidence why multi-national companies love, just looove, the current set up. They play one country off against the other, and have them all running scared of taking any unilateral action in taxing them.

    France comes up with an interesting idea of how these global money-sucking vampires might be taxed like the rest of us, and all the mugs are more concerned about how bad an idea it is, and how it may benefit their country to the detriment of France. All rather than look at the bigger picture. They actually think they're getting one over on the foolish French, when it's the multi-national companies that are laughing all the way to the bank at the lot of us.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Flame

      In the Land Of The Shopkeepers

      ..they instinctively sympathize with Tax-Dodgers and then they will pay up mightily for police, fire, hospital and defence services. Finally, they will bitch that their bypass is not applied quicly enough after a history of alcohol abuse.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Go

    Stupid, Complex, Over-Theoretic

    Taxing is about money. The state wants a cut from profits, revenue or property to finance The Commons.

    The "value" of silly personal info might be gyrating over time and it certainly is different in France than it is in Ethopia.

    So ? Require the internet corpos to either

    A) Pay a tax proportional to the user base in a certain country and their total, worldwide profits

    B) Pay a tax proportional to the profit they generate from a certain geography. For example, an ad displayed in France needs its profits reported to the french taxman. The totality of french-attributed sales would establish the profit-percentage for calculating how much from worldwide profit can be attributed to France. And then be taxed according to French profit tax law.

    Is that perfect ?

    No, but the discussion must be started. The 99% lose out if we allow for these corpos to suck off profits to Luxembug, Switzerland the Bahamas and other hubs of Tax Criminality.

    You have issues with taxation in general ?

    Then relocate to Angloa and don't steal the services of the police and firebrigade I pay for.

    Are the other reasonable schemes ?

    Definitely, bring them on.

    1. Bugs R Us
      Facepalm

      Re: Stupid, Complex, Over-Theoretic

      If a country wants to raise tax revenue it should develop an industry. If organizations are to be taxed for simply holding data, then the government should give individuals tax discounts for the data governments hold about the citizens they govern. Then what next? Do we tax wealthier people more because they have more assets and therefore more data needs to be stored about them? Do we at some point tax by the megabyte or even byte?

      France is will end up being cut off from the digital revolution taking place around the globe. Corporations should take a stand against France. France has more to lose than the corporations.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Flame

        Re: Stupid, Complex, Over-Theoretic

        Apparently you have not read my post thoroughly. France is trying to get a handle on tax dodgers who rake in lots of cash and profits in France and pay pathetic taxes there. The French approach seems to be quite idiotic, but the general need to properly tax these hugely profitable corporations does indeed exist.

        Think of Google as an advertising agency who refuses to (seriously) pay tax.

        1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
          FAIL

          Re: Stupid, Complex, Over-Theoretic

          > Think of Google as an advertising agency who refuses to (seriously) pay tax.

          Google has not refused to pay any tax that it is required to do.

          If governments create such stupidly complex tax systems that a corporation is able to use them to minimize the tax it pays, that is the fault of the governments, not the corporation. The power to change it is entirely in the hands of the governments. There is NO reason that anyone should pay more tax than they are legally required to. I wouldn't, why should I expect Google to?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Stupid, Complex, Over-Theoretic

            If governments create such stupidly complex tax systems that a corporation is able to use them to minimize the tax it pays, that is the fault of the governments, not the corporation. The power to change it is entirely in the hands of the governments.

            Erm, isnt that the crux of the French plan here?

            The government are planning to change the system so they can get more tax money out of the corporation, which has led to much uproar, wailing, gnashing of teeth and threats to abandon France.

            I dont for one second suggest there is ever a "moral" amount of tax, it is exactly what you said - the correct legal amount. Anything else is rhetoric.

            However, when a country feels that a company is abusing the system, paying less in tax than the Government are happy with and (effectively) becoming a drain on national resources, then it is fairly sensible for the Government to change the law.

            If this results in some businesses abandoning the country then it is down to the Government to decide if this is a net loss to the nation or not.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Stupid, Complex, Over-Theoretic

        @ Bugs R Us

        France is will end up being cut off from the digital revolution taking place around the globe. Corporations should take a stand against France. France has more to lose than the corporations.

        Interestingly, it seems unlikely that a corporation would throw away a $2bn revenue stream to "make a stand" against a country and, if it did, I suspect there would be a major shareholder revolt. If the French government feels the companies arent providing an acceptable amount of Tax, then France doesnt have anything to lose - the money is going offshore anyway.

        More importantly, should we encourage corporations to be taking a stand against democratically elected governments? We might not always agree with the political party that gets voted in, but at least we have significantly more say in that process than what a Corporation will do.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      For example, an ad displayed in France needs its profits reported to the french taxman

      Do what!

      So if my UK web-site, providing ad-funded services to the UK, with UK suppliers advertising on my site was to be visited by an IP address from France (so the advert appears in France), I need to work out how much money I received from that ad and then pay French tax to the French government for it? Yeah, that'll work!

      And I guess I would have to do the same for any other country that takes the same approach too.

      So what happens when ALL of my visits are from abroad? I will be paying tax to every other country EXCEPT the UK I suppose - unless you want me to pay tax twice. SO I'll be a UK company making a profit and not paying any tax on my profits to the UK....hmmm, sounds familiar.

      I think you need to seriously rethink what you put there, as you may not have intended what was written. If you did then you must be insane.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Will El Reg be forced to cough up for any comments made in French?

  37. Bugs R Us
    FAIL

    Solution: facebook.org

    Facebook.org is a non profit organization that does not store any data (except logon and password) and is funded by charitable donations from wealthy private individuals. Instead it uses open APIs provided by Facebook.com (a US company) to "only show data from Facebook.com".

  38. David Kelly 2

    The French Are Stupid

    Is obvious the government of France owns its citizens and as such is their duty to manage their citizens for maximum profit same as any other farmer managing livestock.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Flame

      Not As Stupid As Anglosaxons

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bankruptcy_of_Lehman_Brothers

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_S._Fuld,_Jr.#Bankruptcy_and_aftermath

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_International_Group#Financial_crisis

      France had a strong, capable state at least until recently while all the strong Anglosaxons appear to have ended up in the financial industry while their supposed supervisors are inept, shallow and corrupt idiots.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%89cole_nationale_d%27administration

      1. Anonymous Dutch Coward
        Coat

        Re: Not As Stupid As Anglosaxons

        I'd say French are stupid in their unique French way that you stupid (and uncultured, culinarily barbaric) Anglosaxons just don't appreciate... take it from a stupid Dutchman :)

        1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: Not As Stupid As Anglosaxons

          Culinarily barbaric? We don't have to take that from a Dutchman!

  39. James Pickett

    French wonks

    I already have a mental picture of Peter Sellers saying 'wernks' and failing to make himself understood...

  40. Andy 66
    Facepalm

    they're just pissed...

    because the world ignored Minitel.

  41. Jean-Luc Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Workable proposal, for sure.

    A common French objection to a proposal:

    "Can't use this. It works fine in practice, but not in theory".

    Just how impractical and daft do French government proposals have to be be before their constituents laugh at them?

    Tell you what, Mr. Hollande. Find a way to tax Amazon sales to French residents. Or Starbucks. Cutting down on obvious corporate tax tourism makes sense. This? Does. Not.

    Mostly, get a effin clue and balance your budget. First time in what, 30+ years? For left and right govts.

    How come France taxes at Swedish levels, delivers public services at Italian levels and accumulates debt like Greece, eh? Work on that, or more folks will emigrate, like I did. Best thing I ever did.

  42. Ron Christian
    Thumb Up

    Sooo......

    Google, Amazon and Facebook disallow access from within France. Problem solved.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sooo......

      Google, Amazon and Facebook disallow access from within France. Problem solved.

      Excellent plan.

      French government loses 5m euros in tax income and Google (etc) lose 2bn euros in revenue.

      For once, it is actually a win-win situation. What isnt to like?

  43. Herby Silver badge

    So...

    I want to tax this "internet" thing. Where is its headquarters? How come I can't see it? Is it like a telephone or some such. They pay based on time connected, so why not the internet, and take a fraction of that?

    Yeah, that's the ticket. Make people pay for connection time and tax that. Just like a telephone!

    Logical?

    French moaning: "Why does my internet cost do much"

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Facebook is pollution.

    (Snicker)

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't vote for politicians

    It only encourages them!

    1. billse10
      Thumb Up

      Re: Don't vote for politicians @AC 04:48

      I seem to remember a PJ O'Rourke book "Don't Vote! It just encourages the b*stards!")

  46. Roger Mew

    Language

    Question, how would the frnch govt know where the people came from, doesnt a VPN mean you are not where you think you are, me being English living in France use .uk for example and often use a VPN to watch TV so no way could they know whos what.

    Perhaps just stopping all French language sites would be a good idea, then also they can stop the french people using English sites to buy stuff, I mean who would pay €250 for parts when you could get them quicker for about 1/3 of the price from the UK.

    As most French have little idea of the internet then they could go back to minitel and just tell the French people its new and updated.

    Can I back the bit about French people, oh yes, average virii on French computers about 6-7 max seen so far 300!! What about tea cosys money, I told the Gendarmerie about exactly that problem some 3 months before it happened, they did nought

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