WEB TAX, IL GIOCO DELLE TRE CARTE. Invito formalmente il governo a rimediare al grave errore commesso questa notte dando parere favorevole all'emendamento sulla web tax, presentato dal relatore alla Camera. La norma colpisce in modo pesantissimo le imprese italiane del web dimezzando l'onere a carico delle multinazionali digitali, ammesso che a queste venga in concreto applicata l'imposta

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Il Financial times e la web tax

Un articolo del Financial Times – scritto dal corrispondente di Roma, James Politi, e da quello di Bruxelles, Rochelle Toplensky – affronta la proposta di Massimo Mucchetti sulla web tax. Ne riproponiamo il contenuto.

Italy plans tax crackdown on US internet groups – Levy on services such as advertising on Google and Facebook ‘an attack on avoidance’

Italy is putting forward plans for a digital sales levy as a European crackdown on how large US internet groups pay tax gathers momentum.

The upper house of the Italian parliament, the Senate, will this week consider legislation that would impose a so-called “equalisation tax” from July. The measure would force Italian buyers of services such as advertising on Google or Facebook — “intangible digital products” — to withhold 6 per cent of the value of the purchase and pay it instead to the Italian Treasury.

The measure has the backing of the ruling centre-left Democratic party (PD). “Italy wants to give a political push to this, we are not afraid,” Massimo Mucchetti, the president of the Senate industry committee and a PD lawmaker, told the Financial Times. “This is an attack on tax avoidance,” he added.

Transactions of less than €30 and purchases by individuals would be exempt.

The Italian parliament’s move comes two months after France proposed its own tax on digital sales, raising pressure on the EU to agree a common stance. Paris, Rome, Berlin and Madrid have said they will press ahead with their own country-by-country efforts if the EU does not move quickly enough as a bloc.

Italy could emerge as the first country in the group to adopt the legislation.

“A web tax is almost unavoidable and politically very attractive,” Paolo Cellini, professor of digital economy at Luiss university in Rome. He said the US technology companies were a “perfect target” as they were “almost indefensible”.

Mr Cellini said: “They don’t pay taxes. They don’t create employment. They take money abroad and they are foreigners.”

The digital tax provision is part of an amendment to Italy’s annual budget law and would also need approval by the lower chamber of the Italian parliament, which is expected to approve the budget by the end of December.

While there is likely to be haggling on the details of the digital tax provision, people familiar with the matter say there is little opposition to it.

With Italy facing a general election in early 2018, the digital tax allows the PD to unite over a measure that appeals to its leftwing at a time when Matteo Renzi, the party leader, is trying to patch up internal differences.

The Italian government, led by prime minister Paolo Gentiloni, has backed the idea of the digital tax but it has not taken a formal position on the amendment. A finance ministry official said it was encouraging that Italy was taking the “first step to tax digital activities” but said the measure should not be “punitive” or clash with EU legislation.

“We want to avoid a proposal that goes against [EU] treaties, that is discriminatory or that is perceived as state aid,” he said.

One concern is that the proposal being debated in the Senate would apply only to companies based outside Italy, while the finance ministry would like to extend it to Italy-based companies. The proposed legislation also boosts the ability of tax authorities to track digital revenue flows heading abroad from Italy by forcing banks to report large transaction volumes — another measure that could be contentious.

Companies contacted by the Financial Times, including Amazon and Google, declined to comment on the Italian plan. Tech groups including Apple, Amazon and Alphabet, Google’s parent, have previously defended their arrangements and stated they pay all taxes required.

Some have said they understand the desire of EU governments to increase their revenues and the need to address widespread public concern over the amount of tax companies pay. But they argue that tax changes should be internationally co-ordinated and say unpredictable tax regimes in Europe could spook companies and damage investment and trade flows.

Critics of a digital tax on sales also warn the additional cost might just be passed straight on to consumers.

Italy’s internet advertising market has grown to about €2.5bn in annual revenues, with Google capturing about €1.8bn of that and Facebook another €200m, leaving domestic players including top media outlets with about €500m, Mr Cellini said.