Google agrees €945m tax settlement with France

PARIS: US internet giant Google has agreed a settlement totalling €945 million ($1 billion) to end a tax dispute in France under an agreement announced in court on Thursday.

The company will pay a €500 million fine for tax evasion, as well as a further €465 million to settle claims with French tax authorities.

In a statement, Google confirmed the settlement and hailed the fact it had put an end to fiscal differences that it had with France for numerous years.

The settlement follows similar out-of-court agreements reached in Italy and Britain by Google in recent years, though the French agreement is much larger than the previous ones.

Google said it now wanted to see a coordinated reform for a clear international taxation framework.

French Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet and Budget Minister Gerald Darmanin welcomed the “definitive settling” of all the contentious issues, adding in a statement that it was the result of two years of intense work by the French authorities.

“This outcome is good news for the public finances and fiscal fairness in France,” their statement said.

Belloubet said the settlement showed that the French authorities have the tools to ensure an equitable tax system.

“It is a historic settlement both for our public finances and because it marks the end of an era,” Darmanin said. “By normalising Google’s situation in France, (the settlement) responds to our citizens’ demands for fiscal fairness.”

The settlement comes as France and its European allies seek to find common ground with the United States in a long-running dispute over the taxation of digital giants.

Google, like several other big American tech companies, has its European headquarters in Ireland, where the government has set the corporate tax rate at just 12.5% in a bid to attract big companies.

But leading EU states like France argue that this is allowing tech giants to avoid paying sufficient taxes on the huge profits and sales they accrue in big countries outside where the tech giants are headquartered.

The French parliament in July passed a law taxing digital giants on their French operations, drawing an angry response from US President Donald Trump and threats of retaliation.

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