Government revenue forecasts have raised doubts on almost all fronts these weeks, but there is a chapter in which the unknowns soar, forming an authentic Bermuda Triangle tributary whose impact is an enigma. It's about the call Google rate, the tax on digital services with which the Government plans that Spain is the pioneer country in a tax of these characteristics and ambition.
All this, of course, if the government gets the Congress of Deputies to approve the bill that is now in the background before the processing of the Budgets. The draft that the government at Cuts fix a type of 3% on digital online advertising services, intermediation services that allow locating other users and interacting with them and transmitting data collected from users. In order not to violate the double taxation agreements, it will be an indirect tax, such as VAT, which taxes operations but pays the companies.
The idea of the Google rate comes from the European Comission, which he intended to approve before the expiration of the mandate of Jean-Claude Juncker a community tax, but in the face of its failure has resulted in national projects such as Spain, but also in France or Austria. Yes, with one difference: the Spanish tax will be the hardest of all, with what the Treasury intends to fatten the collection until the 1,200 million, but this will multiply the repercussion that it can have on the companies.
The European Commission, in its initial Google rate project, also taxed the three items included in the project of the Treasury to enter 4,800 million euros throughout the EU. Of this amount, Spain represents around 10% of the population of the EU without the United Kingdom, so it would enter something less than 500 million euros.
Even so, the Treasury calculates in the memory of the Google rate that they would correspond 600 million for the weight of Spain in the European GDP (7.5%). The collection would climb to 728 million for the largest number of digital operations in Spain against the EU according to the calculations of the Tax Agency. Some 240 million more, up to 968, would be explained because, in the case of the European tax, the national billing threshold from which the tax is paid is 5 million, which the Treasury has reduced to three, which causes be more strict than the continental project. The projected increase in online advertising and data traffic solves the rest of the equation: the Ministry estimates that revenues will grow between 1,065 and 1,258 million.
In short, the Spanish tribute is harder than the European one, which seems to be delayed until 2021 and has been decaffeinated by the opposition of Ireland – which concentrates a good part of the European headquarters of the technological ones – or the increasingly lukewarm support of Germany, which in its time together France, United Kingdom, Italy and Spain led efforts to impose a common rate or, at least, several nationals. The latest Ecofin have reduced the impact of the European Google rate by taxing only online advertising.
Faced with the stagnation of the European tax project – which paradoxically was born due to the slowness of the OECD to tax global digital establishments with the opposition of USA-, Spain is not the only country that has decided to act on its own. With the pressure of the "yellow vests", the French government announced that it wants to approve a tax on online advertising at 3% to enter 500 million euros. Austria has also revealed that it will approve a tax similar to foreign technology to enter 200 million. UK will approve in 2020 a tax on intermediary companies of online sales and social networks with a rate of 2% but for multinationals that invoice 570 million euros worldwide – with 28 million exempt. The goal is to enter 1,700 million in four years.
No tax of the raised, yes, has the ambition to collect the Spanish. Nor among the existing taxes are precedents. France already has a "YouTube Rate" that charges ten seconds of advertising before the video; Hungary only taxes online advertising in the Magyar language. For the time being, no agency matches the Government's revenue estimates. The Tax Authority believes that only 189 million euros will be paid, six times less than what the Government projects, due to its late entry into force, while Banco de España and BBVA Research, without giving figures, have also doubted in public that are going to meet these estimates. More vehement was the vice president of the European Commission and Commissioner for Employment Promotion, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, Jyrki Katainen, who a few days ago in Madrid said that Brussels "does not know very well" how Spain will collect the 1,200 million annual foreseen. The fiscal director of Telefónica, Jerónimo Payan, came to label these forecasts of "science fiction" income.
To the doubts about its collection efficiency are added unknowns from the legal and fiscal side. The legal service of Council of the EU It puts in doubt that a tax of these characteristics is "indirect". "It does not seem that the proposals are sufficiently profiled to be implemented at the national or international level in the short term, given their enormous technical complexity and difficulties of practical application with acceptable compliance and supervision costs", responds to the questions from ABC the ex Secretary of State for Finance with the Government of Rajoy until 2016 and senior advisor of EY, Miguel Ferre, who thinks it preferable to apply it in a community way to avoid negative effects for Spain.
For example, the digital employers and Payan believe that the Google rate affects cases of «Double taxation» to national companies that due to their billing they pay Company Tax for the benefits, for which they claim tax reductions, beyond the fact that the tax is deductible (which it is). For Amazon, the tax places "the country at a competitive disadvantage", he described in his contributions in the process of prior consultation process. The firm warns of the "decrease in investment in Spain, since it would be received as a complicated and expensive place for business. A lower investment in Spain would result in a loss of jobs and lower economic growth, "he continues.
In addition, the firm indicates that the tax will be passed on to the client and that the measure "does not guarantee fair conditions of competition for Spanish companies with respect to that of other countries. The tax would be equivalent to an import subsidy, penalizing Spanish operations. " "It would effectively constitute an export tariff for Spanish companies (…), since the Spanish company would have to bear this tax, while its foreign competitors would not have to pay it," judgment.