“Project Goldcrest — it sounds like the title of a James Bond movie, but it is not,” it’s the name “Amazon gave to a complex tax construction by which it fundamentally reorganized its global business,”
“In 2006, that project had one purpose to ensure that Amazon would avoid paying tax on its European profits.” Under that plan, “Luxembourg provided a measure to Amazon by which Amazon could exempt the vast majority of its European profit from taxation in return for investments in Luxembourg, thus affecting intra EU trade and distorting competition,” he said. “That is the very definition of fiscal state aid.”
The EU’s executive arm is appealing a painful defeat inflicted by a lower court, which overturned a decision to force the ecommerce firm to pay back €250 million ($265 million) of tax breaks regulators deemed to be an unfair subsidy.
The 2021 defeat marked the second big blow to
While the amount at stake in the Amazon case is relatively tiny, it marked another important step in potentially shaping the course of pending EU investigations into similar tax arrangements for companies, including
At Thursday’s hearing, Amazon hit back at the commission, calling its appeal “flawed” and without merit. “The commission itself acknowledged in the decision that Amazon structure at the time is not at issue and Amazon paid taxes on all of what the commission calls European profits,” said
A global push for more tax transparency was fueled in 2014 by the so-called Luxleaks revelations by a group of investigative reporters, who published thousands of pages detailing secret tax arrangements between Luxembourg and multinational companies including
An adviser to the EU court is expected to issue a non-binding opinion in Thursday’s case on June 8. A final ruling is likely to follow several months later.
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