Hungary urges ‘Google tax’ on internet firms

History

Hungary presented a proposal to levy a withholding tax on internet companies – such as Google, Facebook and Amazon – at an informal meeting of European Union finance ministers in Bratislava at the weekend, Hungarian news agency MTI reported today. The commonly cited “Google tax” has been mentioned several times by the Hungarian government lately.

“The initiative, similar to the American solution, involves levying a kind of withholding tax on payments that are obviously transferred to a foreign service provider for economic activity that takes place within the borders of another country,” Hungary’s Minister for National Economy Mihály Varga told the news agency on Saturday. Varga reiterated that international digital companies with operations in Hungary must share the public burden “like everybody else.”

The idea has not only been embraced by Hungary, but has recently also stirred the interest of other European countries. The Visegrád  Four countries – the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary – were reported to be supportive of the measure at the meeting.

During the meeting, the assembled economy and finance ministers also discussed possibilities for deepening Europe’s monetary union. “We agree with this, to a point,” MTI reported Varga as saying. “If the European Union is looking to its future, then it must strengthen cooperation in the economic form. It must return to its origins, to the strengthening of the economic community. We agree on this notion, but not on a fiscal union.”

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