Google geared up to appeal a record €2.4 billion fine handed out by the European Commission (EC) over its search results, as finance ministers from four of the region’s big five countries separately called for stiffer taxation of global technology companies.
The US search giant is expected to file its plea against the EC fine today (11 September), which The Telegraph reported is the deadline for its response. At first glance, the move would appear to be something of an about turn by Google, which announced in late August it would comply with EC calls for it to stop favouring its own shopping comparison website in search results.
However, when the EC handed out the fine in June, the search giant noted it “respectfully disagrees” with the decision and indicated it may appeal.
The fine was calculated based on revenue generated by Google for parent company Alphabet. It could face penalty payments of up to 5 per cent of its average daily global turnover if it fails to meet the terms of the EC’s ruling.
Call for amendments
Google’s planned appeal comes as finance ministers in France, Germany, Spain and Italy called for a clamp down on the activities of overseas technology companies.
Bruno le Maire (France), Pier Carlo Padoan (Italy), Luis de Guindos (Spain) and Wolfgang Schaeuble (Germany), co-signed a letter calling for the EU to calculate technology companies’ tax based on revenue instead of profits – as is currently the case, Reuters reported. The letter was sent to Estonia, current holder of the presidency of the Council of the EU, and the EC.
The politicians sought an end to current practices whereby overseas tech giants typically register tax through countries where rates are lower, and called for a system which would see the companies taxed at levels closer to each country’s own corporate tax rates.
Discussions on changes to the taxation system are scheduled for a forthcoming meeting of EU finance ministers on 15 September and 16 September.