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Daily Tax Report: International

Amazon Faces Costs in the Millions to Comply with French Digital Tax

Aug. 19, 2019, 3:25 PM

Complying with France’s new 3% digital revenue tax will cost Amazon.com Inc. “millions,” a company official said.

The French measure asks tech giants like Amazon, Facebook Inc., and Alphabet Inc.'s Google to calculate how much of their revenue comes from French users, based on location data. That will force them to adjust their systems to track that data, Peter Hiltz, director of international tax and policy planning at Amazon, said Aug. 19 at a Washington hearing.

  • “We haven’t had any reason to track those sorts of things,” Hiltz said at the U.S. Trade Representative’s hearing into impact of the French tax. “Yes, this will cost us millions of dollars to write the systems to collect the data in the first place.”
  • Compliance is even more difficult because the tax applies retroactively. “We haven’t been collecting a lot of this information, so we have to build tools to do it,” Hiltz said.
  • The hearing, under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974, is part of the Trump administration’s consideration of responses to the French tax, including possible tariffs.

To contact the reporter on this story: Isabel Gottlieb in Washington at igottlieb@bloombergtax.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Meg Shreve at mshreve@bloombergtax.com; Kathy Larsen at klarsen@bloombergtax.com