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France Proposes a Tax On Personal Information Collection

samzenpus posted about a year and a half ago | from the pay-to-play dept.

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Dupple writes in with a story about a French proposal to tax companies that collect personal data online. "France, seeking fresh ways to raise funds and frustrated that American technology companies that dominate its digital economy are largely beyond the reach of French fiscal authorities, has proposed a new levy: an Internet tax on the collection of personal data. The idea surfaced Friday in a report commissioned by President François Hollande, which described various measures his government was taking to address what the French see as tax avoidance by Internet companies like Google, Amazon and Facebook. These companies gather vast reams of information about their users, harnessing it to tailor their services to individuals' interests or to direct customized advertising to them. So extensive is the collection of personal details, and so promising the business opportunities linked to it, that the report described data as the "raw material" of the digital economy."

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196 comments

3...2...1....and the data is in the UK (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42646685)

If you tax something like that, it will be gone in less than 60 microseconds.

Re:3...2...1....and the data is in the UK (1)

DickBreath (207180) | about a year and a half ago | (#42647889)

> If you tax something like that, it will be gone in less than 60 microseconds.

That may be true at the server. But you fail to consider the latency of the network connection to France.

More realistically it will take a significant fraction of a second for internet access to be gone.

France is doing all it can to get itself cut off from the internet. If French government officials thought that taxing sunlight would cause the sun to go dark, I wonder if that would be sufficient motivation to cause them to do it?

Re:3...2...1....and the data is in the UK (4, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#42648095)

So you impose the tax on collection not where the data is stored. If you collect data about a french citizen/computer and your company does business in anyway in france you have to pay. Pretty simple method that is in use for lots of things.

Hilarious (5, Insightful)

Rakhar (2731433) | about a year and a half ago | (#42646691)

While I don't believe this is in any way viable to enforce, I think it would be hilarious to sit back and watch the aftermath.

Re:Hilarious (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42647047)

I think its a great idea. Corporations think they can collect and use any data they can get their hands on. Anything that'll make them slow down is a good thing.

Re:Hilarious (4, Insightful)

Shoten (260439) | about a year and a half ago | (#42647911)

I think its a great idea. Corporations think they can collect and use any data they can get their hands on. Anything that'll make them slow down is a good thing.

I agree that anything that will "slow them down" is a good thing. But here's the problem: this will actually incent them to further monetize the data they collect. What does a corporation do if they invariably collect personal data as part of their normal business operations, with no intent to share it, but then find themselves taxed as a result? Beware the unintended consequences that usually arise when the public sector imposes economic impacts on the private sector in the attempt to control behavior.

Re:Hilarious (2)

hydrofix (1253498) | about a year and a half ago | (#42647989)

Except that once you start taxing personal information collection, it legitimizes the whole business model. Corporations feel that they are entitled to your information, because they are already paying for it. I would much rather see governments actually enforcing existing laws on who can collect our personal information and to what extent.

Re:Hilarious (5, Interesting)

nickleaton (966500) | about a year and a half ago | (#42647091)

There's an interesting change going on. Services, which are basically delivered electronically, can't be taxed. Similarly with lots of IP. Think about it. Who are you going to tax? The consumer, or the producer. Ah, the producer say government. There aren't many of them, so we can get them. Difficult going after the consumer, since they are the ones who vote. Ah, slight problem. We can't go after the producers, if they are overseas. After all, the places where the servers are want their tax cut. If we really went after them, the other countries would retaliate. Not only that, the producers would up sticks, and move their servers. For example, if you use AWS for your servers, you can move them in seconds. Who are you going to tax now? Not only can the server move, the company can move. They will move to lower tax, lower regulation. Same with all IP. So I see IP taxes falling to zero. Far better keeping the employment, rather than driving that offshore. So what are Facebook's assets in France. It's the payments from advertisers. Now under EU rules, there is freedom of movement of goods, services people, and capital. Tough for France, they can't get the taxes. So what's really going on. Basically western states are bankrupt. They have hidden their pensions debts off the books. France is bankrupt, and now its desperate for cash. Any cash, no matter what the damage. However the rich have hopped, over the border to Belgium and Switzerland. Bank of France reported that last month, French banks lost 44 bn EUR of deposits. So a run on France has started. In France the state has educated people they are entitled. Its a right. When that 'right' is infringed, there will be violence.

Quite the opposite (2)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | about a year and a half ago | (#42647331)

Services, which are basically delivered electronically, can't be taxed.? Of course services can be taxed. Take a look at your phone bill, water bill, cable bill or any other "service" you get. Oh, and what about that "sales tax" for downloading an MP3 from Amazon (in some jurisdictions).

Technically, these companies don't make money "collecting personal information", that is actually an expense they occur. They only make money if they sell something, and that is already taxed. However, the gist of the bulk of the nickleaton post is corrrect - this is about broke government casting about for money to throw at ill-conceived spending they have obligated themselves to.

Re:Quite the opposite (2)

nickleaton (966500) | about a year and a half ago | (#42647521)

It's both. You can't remove the motivation from the tax. The motivation is, we're desperate for money, primarily because they've been cooking the books. Pensions debts aren't recorded. Service taxes can always be avoided. I can buy from wherever I want in the EU. I can buy an MP3 from the USA if I want. It doesn't matter where I buy, location doesn't matter for these sorts of services. Quality doesn't change. So its just down to price. Phone bill - depends on local infrastructure, either fixed line or mobile. That can be taxed. Cable bill - ditto Water bill ditto. Software? Nope. MP3? nope. Web services? Nope. You're confusing goods which are what the economists call non-tradeable with goods and services that are. So going forward you're going to see taxes on the non-tradeable goods. Stuff that depends on infrastructure that's fixed, or things like property (mobile homes exempted), restuarants, that can't be moved. Likewise with the rich. They will move their assets, put them into companies, and you can only tax where the company is, not where the shareholders are. You can certainly tax the income part, but the rest you can't. So the rich will just pay themselves what they spend. ie. You only get taxed on spending. It's a trend and its happening. Taxes will move to consumption taxes. Taxes on capital, and taxes on income won't be effective. Now taxes on consumption hit the poor, and since the states can't support their current set up on current taxes, let alone their debts. its going to be very rough.

Re:Quite the opposite (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#42648123)

You can surely tax shareholders. A property tax applied on shares could do that.

The poor can be reimbursed for their consumption taxes, if reducing impact on them is desired.

Re:Hilarious (1)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | about a year and a half ago | (#42647583)

Ah, slight problem. We can't go after the producers, if they are overseas. After all, the places where the servers are want their tax cut. If we really went after them, the other countries would retaliate. Not only that, the producers would up sticks, and move their servers. For example, if you use AWS for your servers, you can move them in seconds. Who are you going to tax now?

If you impose a tax on having data (in accordance to the practice of data minimisation), what you say is only true if only France would introduce such a tax, and EU countries would not work together.

If you host data on EU citizens, this data has to be hosted inside the EU. If you don't comply, you can't make business in the EU. And while you might not mind skipping France, the EU is a huge market, too large to ignore.

So it would be possible to introduce such a law, even though it would have troubles (e.g. how do you check?). It may successfully discourage free services such as Facebook to unnecessarily collect personal data though.

Re:Hilarious (1)

nickleaton (966500) | about a year and a half ago | (#42647855)

So they have facebook.us and move all the accounts there. You can, if you want, remove yourself. Now what's France going to do? Is it going to put up a firewall and say to the French, you can't have access to Facebook? That's what you have to get around. [The French really don't get the tax thing. Search for Depardieu and his comments. I'll re-iterate. 44 bn left France last month. Bankruptcies are rife. They have real problems. It's all legal. The French would need to get all EU countries to agree to it, or they would have to leave the EU. Remember, Freedom of movement of people, goods, services and capital. It's the law.

Re:Hilarious (1)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | about a year and a half ago | (#42647661)

However the rich have hopped, over the border to Belgium and Switzerland. Bank of France reported that last month, French banks lost 44 bn EUR of deposits. So a run on France has started.

It's funny how that happens when you try to introduce a 75% tax rate for the wealthy [bbc.co.uk] .

Re:Hilarious (1)

nickleaton (966500) | about a year and a half ago | (#42647867)

Quite. The UK used to have 16,000 people with a million plus (GBP) incomes. Tax went to over 50%. Now there are only 6,000. Wonder what the 10,000 have done.

Re:Hilarious (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42648057)

Quite.

The UK used to have 16,000 people with a million plus (GBP) incomes.

Tax went to over 50%.

Now there are only 6,000.

Wonder what the 10,000 have done.

They played the markets, lost a bunch of money and then got bailed out with the tax money paid by those who can't afford to buy their own island in the caribbean and move their legal residence to a tax haven.

Re:Hilarious (2)

alexander_686 (957440) | about a year and a half ago | (#42647237)

How would this even work? One bit for every byte?

(Use your own definition of bit – I like mine as Spanish gold – Others like them as 1s and Os.)

Re:Hilarious (0)

canadiannomad (1745008) | about a year and a half ago | (#42647353)

Enter the new world of international tax collection.... It all started when the US gov't decided that it had the jurisdiction to raid a house in New Zealand...

And make 'em publish pages in French, too! (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year and a half ago | (#42646693)

"Electricity in the home? What good is this 'electricity'?"

"Senator, in 20 years, you'll be taxing it."

Remember, folks. The sordid, scurrilous worms in this are not the innovators.

Re:And make 'em publish pages in French, too! (4, Interesting)

Rockoon (1252108) | about a year and a half ago | (#42646757)

Wont this legitimize any and all collections of personal information as long as the tax gets paid?

"But they collected data on what time of the day I poop.. dont I have any privacy?"

"There is nothing we can do sir. They paid the tax. Quite frankly, we wish more corporations would collect this data so that we could get more taxes"

Re:And make 'em publish pages in French, too! (3, Insightful)

Raumkraut (518382) | about a year and a half ago | (#42647003)

Wont this legitimize any and all collections of personal information as long as the tax gets paid?

No.
Tax is levied on alcohol and tobacco, yet there are still licences and regulations behind selling either one.

Re:And make 'em publish pages in French, too! (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | about a year and a half ago | (#42647255)

Does taxing liquor mean anyone can sell or buy it without restriction? Tobacco? Cars? If anything, taxing may be the means by which we regulate who can collect how much on whom.

Re:And make 'em publish pages in French, too! (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about a year and a half ago | (#42648073)

Iowa has a marijuana tax stamp. Selling marijuana without the stamp nets you a fine but that doesn't mean that selling marijuana with it is legal.

Enforcement and Boundaries (2)

Grench (833454) | about a year and a half ago | (#42646695)

Their biggest problem, of course, will be how to enforce the collection of this tax. If a user signs up for Facebook (etc), does that mean Facebook has to tell the French government about it so they can be billed correctly for the tax? Doesn't that mean someone can really screw Facebook up by signing up a bunch of bogus accounts registered in France, meaning Facebook has to foot the bigger tax bill? What about French citizens signing up from other countries but marking down their country of origin as France (these people wouldn't be French taxpayers any more, yet Facebook would presumably have to pay the tax on the collection of that users' data). It's not an easy one to resolve...

Re:Enforcement and Boundaries (5, Insightful)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | about a year and a half ago | (#42646753)

I think a bigger question is how would you enforce such a tax on a company that has no assets in France. Does Facebook have any datacenters or offices here? If no, then .... what is France going to do? Start censoring any website that doesn't pay them? I mean, that's the fundamental thing they're complaining about, right - companies that sell into the French market and make money there don't pay corporate taxes because, hm, they don't actually run their business from there. So why would this new tax be any different?

I'm really wondering if the current French government even cares about France being seen as a serious country. Taxes targeted at a handful of companies aren't going to resolve their budget deficit problems or even make a noticeable dent. This move strongly reminds me of their threats to nationalize ArcelorMittal if they closed a factory. The factory was closed and the threat was not carried through.

Re:Enforcement and Boundaries (2)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | about a year and a half ago | (#42646963)

I'm really wondering if the current French government even cares about France being seen as a serious country.

No need to wonder - the answer is Non!. (previous French governments were not significantly different in this respect)

Re:Enforcement and Boundaries (1)

Jesrad (716567) | about a year and a half ago | (#42647177)

I'm really wondering if the current French government even cares about France being seen as a serious country.

As a french citizen, I can assure you that the last few years have definitely demonstrated that our politicians will squander every last shred of credibility France still has, as long as it can even potentially give them a single vote back.

I mean, seriously... the very existence of Hadopi and its millions of euros worth of budget for nought ? The Florange debacle ? The Peugeot mess ? High-profile Minister posing in marinière with kitchen implements in hands on the cover of a magazine ? Government officials contradicting each other in matter of national policies ? The Twitterweiler communication mishap ? The list goes on and on and on...

Pretty much every member of our governments of the past decades has amounted to little more than a bad clown with delusions of grandeur, much to the population's pain and shame.

Re:Enforcement and Boundaries (1)

nickleaton (966500) | about a year and a half ago | (#42647185)

The asset is the willingness of French Advertisers to use Facebook, Google etc. They can't tax Facebook, because its all offshore. So the French are going to have to tax the Advertisers that use Google, Facebook etc. Hmmm, not going to go down well is it, taxing your own companies. Neither is taxes the ultimate consumer, the man or woman, dans la Rue. Ah well, that's what comes from running a Ponzi scam. At some point you get desperate for cash to keep it rolling over, then it goes tits up.

Re:Enforcement and Boundaries (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42647553)

When it goes tits up are they 'dans le rue de poo?'

(bad translation of shit street)

Re:Enforcement and Boundaries (1)

shadowrat (1069614) | about a year and a half ago | (#42647475)

clearly facebook has to send all personal information they collect to the government for auditing. it's the only way to make sure they are being properly taxed.

taxation=punitive (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42646703)

I'm all for taxing data collection of personal data. This would have a dampening effect on the industry, just like taxation has on many other unsavory (and good unfortunately) industries.

France on strike (5, Funny)

Buggz (1187173) | about a year and a half ago | (#42646713)

Google Rep: What exactly does France want?
France: We want: more... money!
French aide: Yeah! More money!
Facebook rep: More money from where?
France: Just more money! You know! France doesn't get enough money! Other countries have lots of money; we want, we want some of that money! Hu- how about- the Internet? The Internet makes lots of money! So give us some of that money!
French aide: Yeah! Give us Internet money!

Re:France on strike (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42646819)

Excuse me....
From the original article:
"Google generates more than $30 billion a year in advertising revenue, including an estimated €1.5 billion, or $2 billion, in France. Yet, like other American Internet companies, it pays almost no taxes in France."

They've forgotten to add "... nor in the United States."
Google, Facebook, etc.... ( and many others, but these are the ones mentioned in the abstract), pay almost no taxes, because they are addressed in Ireland.

What France and the rest of the European Union Countries have to do is enforce a change in Ireland tax laws.

Just an oppinion from a Spanish guy.
Cheers...

Re:France on strike (2)

Buggz (1187173) | about a year and a half ago | (#42646915)

I must admit I merely posted the first thing that came to my mind. So there was an article?

Re:France on strike (1)

theRunicBard (2662581) | about a year and a half ago | (#42646917)

I'm American (so... stupid) and while I can see where you're going with that, given what the government here does with my tax money (go to war, not fix roads, bicker, etc), I would be happy for any organization, especially one as useful as Google, that manages to hide its money. Now, I'm told in countries like Canada, taxes are actually redistributed to the people. That would be a different story. As it stands, I just can't feel sorry for the US not getting its "share" of Google's money.

Re:France on strike (2)

fche (36607) | about a year and a half ago | (#42647113)

... because nothing says wise government like redistribution.

Re:France on strike (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42647233)

I'm American (so... stupid) and while I can see where you're going with that, given what the government here does with my tax money (go to war, not fix roads, bicker, etc), I would be happy for any organization, especially one as useful as Google, that manages to hide its money. Now, I'm told in countries like Canada, taxes are actually redistributed to the people. That would be a different story. As it stands, I just can't feel sorry for the US not getting its "share" of Google's money.

The thing causing wastage and partisan bickering is not government as such, it's the morons you elect to run it (and in case anybody think's I'm unfairly basing Americans we have the same problem here in the old world). Google can contribute to society by paying taxes like everobody else, what is being done with that money is a subject for a separate debate.

whack-a-mole (1)

Frankie70 (803801) | about a year and a half ago | (#42647193)

What France and the rest of the European Union Countries have to do is enforce a change in Ireland tax laws.

What about the next country which then establishes the same tax laws as Ireland - it may not be in the EU? What then?

This will turn out to be a game of whack-a-mole.

Re:whack-a-mole (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42647931)

If that country is not in the EU you can designate it as a tax haven and impose all kinds of sanctions on them... unless that country turns out to be switzerland.

Re:France on strike (1)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | about a year and a half ago | (#42647705)

What France and the rest of the European Union Countries have to do is enforce a change in Ireland tax laws.

Or they could lower their own corporation taxes to a competitive rate and live within their means.

Just sayin'.

Re:France on strike (1)

WWJohnBrowningDo (2792397) | about a year and a half ago | (#42647927)

Kinda hard to compete with 0%.

Re:France on strike (2)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about a year and a half ago | (#42648219)

TFA misrepresents the French government's position somewhat. It isn't just about tax revenue, it is about making privacy invasion have an associated cost. They are trying to do the same thing with a small financial transaction tax. The amount levied is tiny but still enough to discourage people from high frequency trading and other douchbaggery.

In other words it is behaviour modification, similar to taxes on tobacco or pollution.

Re:France on strike (2)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | about a year and a half ago | (#42648311)

They've forgotten to add "... nor in the United States."

Reality check, according to the SEC filings Googles tax rate in the USA was 22% [sec.gov]

The stories you read about Google "dodging tax" or paying only a few percent are looking at worldwide revenues. It's due to Americans going French all of a sudden and thinking that any money earned by any Google subsidiary anywhere in the world should be taxed by the IRS - even if that money was a Swiss Franc earned in Switzerland and then spent on Swiss salaries. Well the Swiss government gets to tax that, but the money never went anywhere near the USA, so the US doesn't get any. If you count all that money you can arrive at very low apparent tax rates, but it's just a fantasy.

ObDisclaimer: I work for Google and don't think there are any issues with the way the company pays tax.

Re:France on strike (0)

EmagGeek (574360) | about a year and a half ago | (#42646965)

Haha that scene sounds like it came right out of Idiocracy: Part Dew

Re:France on strike (1)

Sponge Bath (413667) | about a year and a half ago | (#42647023)

I know this is a South Park reference, but it made me think of the bowling alley scene in the Big Lebowski.

France: We want ze money, Googlebowski.
Donny: Are these the socialists, Walter?
Walter Sobchak: No, Donny, these men are nihilists, there's nothing to be afraid of.

Re:France on strike (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42647469)

I know this is a South Park reference ...

Yup [youtube.com]

Re:France on strike (1)

RedHackTea (2779623) | about a year and a half ago | (#42647179)

Show me the money! I love black people!

Re:France on strike (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42647465)

They must have learned that from the french in Quebec. They get tons of money for nothing.

And then... (2)

MikeRT (947531) | about a year and a half ago | (#42646721)

When the companies decide to not collect data on French citizens, the French government will bitch them out for drying up a revenue stream.

Re:And then... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42647073)

How do you tell if the data you've collected is from french citizens or not?

The bigger problem, is that once this becomes taxable, it also becomes legal. Right now, it's a gray area of different shades for every country, meaning, that to some degree everyone has a little protection, but once it's legal ...

Once it is taxed it is legal? (2)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | about a year and a half ago | (#42647439)

Not true, in the USA, you are taxed (among other things) on your "income", whether the source of that income is legal or not. If you fail to pay can go to jail if the IRS nails you for tax evasion, even if the criminal acts are not themselves prosecuted.

This is how a lot of organized crime is prosecuted - for the underlying money and tax crimes, not the drugs or activity that generated the money.

Re:And then... (1)

sribe (304414) | about a year and a half ago | (#42647357)

When the companies decide to not collect data on French citizens, the French government will bitch them out for drying up a revenue stream.

Yep. That would no doubt be the cue for lots of articles about the "tax evasion" the companies were engaging in...

the french (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42646731)

are stupid we all know that.... but this really takes the cake.

Re:the french (1)

lookatmyhorse (2566527) | about a year and a half ago | (#42646995)

I'm not fan of France, but let's be fair and blame the politician and her crew that proposed the law instead of the other 65 million french.

Re:the french (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42647081)

Rational AND reasonable thought!?

you must be new here.

Who shall I say is calling? (1)

RichMan (8097) | about a year and a half ago | (#42646797)

Book keeping nightmare. Anytime anyone tells anyone in the company their name or any details it would have to be logged.

Also some information is required for tax record purposes. Are they going to tax things required for the tax system. Crazy system.

All moral and ethical considerations aside... (1)

russotto (537200) | about a year and a half ago | (#42646803)

...it seems like any such scheme would cost far, far, far, more to administer than it could realistically obtain in revenue. And that's on both the taxpayer side and the government side. Can you imagine trying to audit this?

Re:All moral and ethical considerations aside... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42646889)

Can you imagine trying to audit this?

Yes: "Give us all the personal data about our citizens that you have collected, so we can calculate the appropriate tax. Oh, and of course we won't use that data for other purposes ... no, the copy to the secret service is only for backup purposes. They have the big disks, you know?"

Re:All moral and ethical considerations aside... (1)

Virtucon (127420) | about a year and a half ago | (#42647759)

if bureaucrats could figure out how to tax you for air, they'd do it.

More taxes! (1)

emho24 (2531820) | about a year and a half ago | (#42646809)

Those Frenchies sure love their taxes.

Here's an idea ... (2)

ubrgeek (679399) | about a year and a half ago | (#42646815)

Instead of being "frustrated that American technology companies that dominate its digital economy are largely beyond the reach of French fiscal authorities" try kickstarter-type projects encouraging your own folks to create France-based sites that can compete and dominate your own digital economy. If they're good enough then citizens of other countries might come to _your_ sites and you can charge whatever the heck you want.

Re:Here's an idea ... (3, Interesting)

Archon-X (264195) | about a year and a half ago | (#42647157)

Hah! Doesn't work like that in France.
I've been here for the better part of 7 or 8 years now.

Simply put, France stifles innovation and invention. There's heaps of smart people here, but pretty much all of them leave as quickly as possible. Here's (my understanding of) why:

The very nature of France.
France is a socialist country. There are so many laws weighted against employers that running business is a nightmare.

Sick of working, and fancy a paid holiday? Stop working! As long as you continue t show up physically to work, your employer can't actually fire you (without you taking him to the cleaners in the worker's courts), so you'll be fired with benefits.
What's fired with benefits? Up to two years getting 80% of your old salary.. Why on earth would you want to work?

Double dip salaries
Employers pay 100% of what they pay in salaries on social contribution taxes. If you pay someone $100k per year, you're $200k out of pocket. And then the fucker stops turning up to work, and you can't fire them.

The 35 hour work week
France still has a notion & law that no-one should work more than 35 hours per week. Evidently, you can't get anything done as such - even the french agree, and most work more than this limit. However, for each hour you work over the 35 hour limit - you get back in holidays or overtime. I know people that get at least 2 months holiday per year.

Then, on top of all of this, you have the 'normal' corporate taxes, and then personal income tax.
Until a year or so ago, you also had a Excessive wealth tax - this wasn't just for stupidly rich people - most people who had a few houses as investment or ran a company got nailed by this. Each year, in addition to all other taxes you'd pay a percentage on top of the taxes, just because you had 'too much stuff'. This never stopped (ie, you'd pay taxes on the same things over and over) until you were no longer considered 'rich'.

The upshot of this is a massive skew in the taxation gradients. In France, it's actually smarter to earn less. If you've got a salary for 50k - you'll take home more than someone running a company that turns over millions - you are actively punished for your success.

Naturally, with all of this, employers don't care nor dare to innovate - they simply go overseas - and no need to go far. Spain, Luxembourg, Ireland - all have better corporate tax laws.

Where did everyone go?
Life sucks for employees, too. Employers are so used to getting fucked, that they take as much care finding employees as possible - typically filtering by degrees. It's gotten to the stage now that you cannot get a decent career without at least a master's degree in the precise field. And 5 year's experience in the workforce. At the same time.

When you do get your position, there's no vertical evolution: you're stuck in that position for life. The best you can hope for is slightly adjusting your position by hopping from company to company, and finding great workmates. Then, embittered by this fact, you either leave france, or you decide to go on a two year's paid holiday (see above)

Finally - and I believe this is the biggest factor - is France's groupthink about capitalism. On whole, it's detested. Earning money is taboo in France. Running a company is seen to be incredibly bad. You're labelled 'rich', and people can't wait to see you come down.

The government, and Holland especially, campaign hard on this sentiment, and each year promise to tax business even harder. Holland promised to raise company taxes and upper bracket earners even more.

This makes sense to the masses, who hate the idea of rich, because they'll never get there. The guys who do have companies, who are taxed to oblivion, after years of tax rises, simply leave the country or evade tax, because they've got the means to do it - and the entire country suffers as a result - and you end up with this.

Re:Here's an idea ... (1)

chaynlynk (1523701) | about a year and a half ago | (#42647725)

It's interesting that you point out the views on capitalism. Voltaire's Letters Concerning the English Nation remarked on this same sentiment. That was back in 1733, and it seems that has never changed.

Re:Here's an idea ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42647999)

Basically this. I live in France because of my partner and he gets well over two months vacation a year. The rest of your post is spot on as well. Personally i'm self employed which isn't so bad taxes-wise, but I sure as shit wouldn't want to own a business here. I'm just waiting for my partner to get sick of this shit so we can go back stateside. As soon as the US has gay marriage, that's what i'm going to insist we do.

Re:Here's an idea ... (1)

mjwalshe (1680392) | about a year and a half ago | (#42647647)

you know that France has a tradition of national champions who are the most favored sons when it comes to government spending Bull still make mainframes for goodness sake

A tax on personal data? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42646817)

What percentage of the data do they want?

Collection ha? (2)

GeekWithAKnife (2717871) | about a year and a half ago | (#42646825)


Forget agreeing or even having an opinion. How exactly will they enforce this?

I this is supposed to be a collection of royalties due to tax loopholes why not fix the loopholes?

Why doesn't Hollande spearhead a movement to fix the loopholes instead of pursue specific companies for being clever?

If the previous system to tax corporations did not really work and their clever folk found ways to avoid paying taxes why is this new system such a better idea??

/facepalm

Re:Collection ha? (1)

ConfusedVorlon (657247) | about a year and a half ago | (#42647143)

There isn't really a loophole here.

The reason Google doesn't pay much tax in France is that Google isn't really in France.

I make iPhone apps. My company makes a profit. I pay corporation tax in the UK because that's where I'm based.
I sell plenty of apps in France, but they don't get any tax from me (other than VAT which is managed by apple).

This is actually quite interesting. The interweb has enabled a whole load more large companies to do business globally without having significant local presence.

Governments don't like it when they can't get their 'share' of these offshore companies' profits...

Re:Collection ha? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#42648199)

I would think a simple solution would be to move all taxes to sales taxes and reimburse the working poor for some amount monthly.

I can't see a way to avoid that.

Re:Collection ha? (1)

DickBreath (207180) | about a year and a half ago | (#42648089)

How would France enforce this you ask?

Simple. All exchange of personal data must go through a government proxy. See how easy? Now everyone is happy.

Not in its possession (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42646851)

Governments shouldn't try to tax what they don't possess or control. It's like passing a tax on the consumption of oxygen or sunlight exposure. What people in other countries do with data is far beyond the control of the government of France.

Re:Not in its possession (0)

buck-yar (164658) | about a year and a half ago | (#42646887)

Google and the likes brought it upon themselves with their shady money laundering.

Re:Not in its possession (1)

DickBreath (207180) | about a year and a half ago | (#42648097)

Interesting. Please, tell me more about this money laundering that Google does. And who are "the likes"?

Re:Not in its possession (1)

vlm (69642) | about a year and a half ago | (#42646957)

Governments shouldn't try to tax what they don't possess or control.

What about the substantial costs of identity theft? Obviously it costs .gov "something" every time a database of personal and/or financial data gets stolen. The amounts are exceeding what judgment proof skript kiddies could ever pay back. So a company in the business of gathering data which will cost various levels of .gov a substantial amount of money when the corporation system of security via obscurity or security via intimidation fails. The .gov should be able to collect some tax if corporate activity is creating a liability for them. No different than various road tax schemes or numerous environmental taxes/fees/permits. Cleanup costs money.

I would totally support this taxation idea WRT gathering "identity theft" grade data.

Most .gov have a very imperial view of what they possess and control anyway, regardless of whatever patriotic PR freedom campaign they indoctrinate their youth with. All people withing the borders are subjects to be used at the whim of the state. All property is owned by the state, go ahead and try not paying your taxes and see what happens to "your" property.

French seeking taxes on personal info collected. (1)

Artsie_ladie (1613687) | about a year and a half ago | (#42646895)

The question is, are the French people going to receive such monies collected? Granted, these big social media giants are benefiting from collecting personal data from their users, but if the French government then capitalises on them collecting, isn't the French government then guilty of the same? ..And wouldn't the French government then be plausibly seen as just positioning themselves to also get a "piece of the pie" they're slicing? O.o

Corporate Tax Avoidance (1)

Luthair (847766) | about a year and a half ago | (#42646951)

Focusing on Internet companies is stupid, all multi-nationals are avoiding paying appropriate taxes, close the loopholes that they're all using don't single out a particular industry.

Re:Corporate Tax Avoidance (1)

Virtucon (127420) | about a year and a half ago | (#42647141)

Exactly. Corporations will establish whatever corporate presence is necessary to avoid taxation. Recently I came across this. [go.com] It seems that United and American Airlines have been using an office park location as the receiving location for fuel, avoiding transit taxes that are imposed in Chicago. Presumably all of the fuel received here is used at Chicago O'Hare (ORD) airport. I doubt that the tankers will fit in the parking lot.

While I'm not on the tax the wealthy bandwagon, I find it difficult to imagine how convoluted some of these schemes that corporations (and wealthier individuals) have concocted just to avoid paying a few bucks in tax.

Re:Corporate Tax Avoidance (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42647941)

I find it difficult to imagine how convoluted some of these schemes that corporations (and wealthier individuals) have concocted just to avoid paying a few bucks in tax.

Oh no, Chicago loses out on some tax revenue and an outlying suburb gets more tax revenue (but not as much as Chicago would demand), the horror the horror.

Also, it's never "a few bucks in tax," if United and AA have decided to rent office space outside of Chicago to use as a fuel relay point for tax purposes, that means that the savings exceed the cost of the ofice location, local taxes, and any added transportation costs by more than the amount of additional taxes for taking it straight to Chicago. If you read that article, the 1.5% (of product value) tax difference is estimated at near half a million dollars annually.

Re:Corporate Tax Avoidance (1)

nickleaton (966500) | about a year and a half ago | (#42647207)

So you move your servers to where tax is lowest. Then you pay the appropriate tax in that country. Now what?

Re:Corporate Tax Avoidance (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42647437)

Or, don't bother trying to tax corporations. Let them do whatever they need to do to grow and expand, because that's good for everyone.

They Can Do It! (1)

Greyfox (87712) | about a year and a half ago | (#42647001)

If anyone can find a way to tax that, it'll be the French! They've been taxing my patience for years now!

I kid, because I love, France...

European data protection law (1)

StripedCow (776465) | about a year and a half ago | (#42647009)

Slightly offtopic, but I'm wondering. According to the European data protection law, every individual has the right to get a copy of all personal data a company holds about him or her. This was in the news some time ago regarding Facebook. Any user can order a CD with all information being stored about him or her. Does this law also apply to Google? And if so, has anybody yet attempted to retrieve this information?

Re:European data protection law (1)

Savage-Rabbit (308260) | about a year and a half ago | (#42647309)

Slightly offtopic, but I'm wondering. According to the European data protection law, every individual has the right to get a copy of all personal data a company holds about him or her. This was in the news some time ago regarding Facebook. Any user can order a CD with all information being stored about him or her. Does this law also apply to Google? And if so, has anybody yet attempted to retrieve this information?

Yup, Facebook got so innudated with requests that they couldn't keep up. Apparently you get a CD with a PDF that typically weighs in at over 1000 pages and in excess of 100mb. Many people are shocked by the amount of data Facebook has collected which I find hard to understand since FB isn't even trying very hard to hide the extent of their surveillance.

Re:European data protection law (1)

StripedCow (776465) | about a year and a half ago | (#42647379)

Interesting. But actually, I was asking specifically about Google.

All governments are stupid (1)

rossdee (243626) | about a year and a half ago | (#42647127)

They can't tax data on the internet - because the internet extends beyond their jurisdiction.

Re:All governments are stupid (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | about a year and a half ago | (#42647485)

The US Government imposes an income tax on all of its citizens, even if they do not work within the legal jurisdiction of the United States.

So, clearly there is nothing jurisdictional preventing France imposing this tax. If the US can do it, so can everyone else.

Re:All governments are stupid (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#42648235)

No, it does not.
Only those whose income exceeds $91,400 for 2009, each following year has been higher.
This is to prevent rich folks from claiming their income in another nation as a tax dodge.

If you are in a nation with a tax treaty with the USA you may also deduct any tax you paid to that nation.

Tax the citizens (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42647137)

They're the ones getting on the internet and directing data streams out of country...

My experience with France (3, Interesting)

Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (949321) | about a year and a half ago | (#42647175)

I used to work in the US office of a French company. Our subsidiary was not well known in North America, but it was well known in Europe and some other places. I have a real love/hate relationship with the French. On one hand, there's a lot to like about the country and its culture. On the other hand, the bad stuff that makes you, as a foreigner, hate them is really bad. They are very difficult people to make meaningful friendships with. My experience is that they are really good actors and excel at pretending that you and your friendship is important to them, but in reality, not so much. Almost every American I know who moved over there to work in one of our 2 main offices in France got discouraged with the whole thing and eventually moved back pretty jaded about the experience. The French will look out for their countrymen above all others. They may not say it, but yes, they do think that everybody in the world who is not French is inferior to them. This is one of the reasons that they look to target foreign companies like this. In their heart of hearts, they just don't respect foreign companies.

I'm not claiming to be an expert in French politics, but they've had a lot of bad choices for leadership in recent years. Le Pen scared everybody by making it to the final round of the elections and basically everybody had to vote for Sarkozy. Sarkozy seems to be fairly smart, but he's got a huge ego and he kept making the news for things that had nothing to do with politics. Sarkozy pissed off just enough voters that coupled with Francois Hollande's campaign of "Let's tax the rich so everybody can retire early!", Hollande won. Hollande seems to be a bit out of touch with modern realities and he seems to think that he can simply tax the rich and they'll willingly pay and he can restore the old welfare state that made it impossible to fire French citizens and let people retire at age 60. A good number of French citizens are probably out of touch with reality too since they voted for him. So given that Hollande has an unrealistic goal that requires raising vast amounts of money and the French don't really respect foreigners anyway, going after foreign companies seems obvious. If I remember correctly, some years ago when Ebay got in trouble in France for not blocking listings of Nazi memorabilia, the original French government argument was that Ebay couldn't allow such items to be sold anywhere in the world before they backed down to only asking them to block such in France. So it's no surprise to me at all that France thinks they can tell Google, etc. to pay up and they'll do it.

Re:My experience with France (2, Insightful)

dkleinsc (563838) | about a year and a half ago | (#42647635)

They may not say it, but yes, they do think that everybody in the world who is not French is inferior to them.

See, that's the difference between the Americans and the French: The Americans think that they're better than everyone else, and say it loudly and proudly!

As far as dumb political choices go, the Americans elected and re-elected George W Bush. Enough said.

Re:My experience with France (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42648159)

USA #1!

Stupidity not required for politics, but it helps (1)

markhahn (122033) | about a year and a half ago | (#42647323)

These fuzzy-thinking idiots. The only law we should have about privacy is to create ASTRONOMICAL penalties for publishing false information about anyone.

My grocer knows I have a weak spot for, say, pistachios, good chocolate and broccoli (separately, please.) This is fact. Their sales records illustrate it. Of course, it might be my wife who is the broccoli fiend, but they might be able to figure it out one way or the other. If there is a strong secondary market of people willing to pay for information about nut/desert/vegetable preferences, I say: go ahead, sell my info. It IS NOT A PRIVACY THING - it is at best an anonymity thing. If you wanted, you could pay a PI to follow me around, and watch my grocery habits. That's legal and always has been, regardless of whether it's creepy and boring. The only problem is if you publish as a fact that I prefer cauliflower over broccoli, then you should be made to suffer for your lie. Once I start being inundated by offers for premium-grade cauliflower (or, I suppose cheap/bulk cauliflower), you might also get in trouble with your info broker, since they paid for cauliflower info that you lied about. (The invisible hand can provide you with incentive to keep your vege-lies within some bounds - otherwise, info brokers will no longer pay you. But the law should give me an even bigger stick to bop you on the nose with, since I care a may great deal about my vege-reputation...)

Only a matter of time now (1)

multicoregeneral (2618207) | about a year and a half ago | (#42647405)

For the last two years or so, the French have been extremely hostile, and Google has been tolerating it. But I think it's only fair to remember that Google does have its limit, and it has pulled out of countries before. China, for example, no longer has it's own Google. France is going exactly the opposite of what it needs to be doing. Rather than doing everything it can to try to get more money out of companies like Google, what it needs to be doing is incentivizing the development of local technology companies, which it's not doing. This whole fetish on taxing American innovation is harming the local technology ecosystem, and they're going to feel this one soon, when nobody in their right mind will want to do business in France.

C'est Formidable! (1)

Jawnn (445279) | about a year and a half ago | (#42647597)

This is genius, provided of course, that at least some of the revenues are funneled into the enforcement of privacy.

Stamps (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42647735)

No don't tax it! The People-Things will throw English tea into the river! Make it so that you need a stamp and then not make the stamp, the last people that tried that never had any backlash! It's a perfect idea!

France violating it's own laws (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42647955)

Any mechanism sufficiently obtrusive enough to determine whether a personal information transaction has occurred will, almost certainly, violate European Union privacy laws that France is a signatory to.

If you get too cold (1)

rickb928 (945187) | about a year and a half ago | (#42647973)

They'll tax the heat.

Taxman

Winning.

Advertising Gross Receipts Tax (1)

aaarrrgggh (9205) | about a year and a half ago | (#42648149)

Much more effective to impose a gross receipts tax on all advertising revenue.

This is quite surprising indeed... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42648181)

[...] the report described data as the "raw material" of the digital economy.

... I always thought the raw material was bad grammar and kittens.

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