Although not related to American tax changes, I was surprised when I ran across this article on FT.com about the French government’s proposal to levy a tax on the advertising revenues of Google and other Internet portals. According to FT.com, this is the latest sign of a European backlash against the U.S. owner search giant.
President Nicolas Sarkozy instructed his finance ministry to examine the merits of a tax in response to complaints from the French media that Google and other sites are generating advertising income using their news and other content. He also called for an inquiry by French competition authorities into a possible “abuse of dominant position” in the advertising business of big internet sites.
Mr. Sarkozy commented after the publication of an independent report for the French culture ministry that proposed a tax on Google, Yahoo, Facebook and other sites, to help fund initiatives for writers, musicians and publishers to make money from the web.
The report recommended issuing music cards to young people with €25 ($36) in credit provided by the government as a way of encouraging legal downloading of cultural works.
Google said that it opposed any such tax. “We don’t think introducing an additional tax on internet advertising is the right way forward as it could slow down innovation,” said Olivier Esper, senior policy manager of Google France.
Amid growing global scrutiny, the French government, in particular, has gone after Google on a number of fronts.