Apple to pay €500 million in back taxes to France: Report

The deal was made in December, following a multi-year audit conducted by French authorities.
Written by Campbell Kwan, Contributor

Apple has reached a deal with France to pay backdated taxes amounting to €500 million ($571 million), reports have said.

French magazine L'Express, which reported the €500 million tax payment figure, said the deal was reached in December after several months of negotiations between Apple and French tax authorities.

Cupertino's French division had confirmed to Reuters on Tuesday that a tax deal was reached, but did not say how much would be paid in backdated taxes. 

"As a multinational company, Apple is regularly audited by fiscal authorities around the world," Reuters reported Apple France as saying.

"The French tax administration recently concluded a multi-year audit on the company's French accounts, and those details will be published in our public accounts."

Meanwhile, the EU has been eyeing a union-wide 3 percent tax on big tech firms, which has been adamantly supported by France. Discussions for the proposed EU-wide tax arose in part to prevent companies like Apple from shifting their profits to countries with lower tax rates.

"It's a starting point. I prefer a text that will be implemented very quickly rather than endless negotiations," French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said in March when responding to questions about the proposed EU-wide tax.

In December, Le Maire said France would start taxing tech giants at a national level in 2019 if the EU could not agree upon a solution to pass the 3 percent tax, as reported by ZDNet's sister site CNET.

Apple is still paying back the €13 billion Irish tax fine given by the EU for paying "substantially less tax" than rival companies to Ireland, which is illegal under state aid rules.

Tech giants have been facing tax-evasion backlash globally over the past few years, with the Australian government using its 2018-19 Budget to ensure multinational technology companies are paying taxes in Australia.

"The next big challenge is to ensure big multinational digital and tech companies pay their fair share of tax," former Australian Treasurer cum Prime Minister Scott Morrison said at the time.

In December, the first corporate tax transparency report into Australia's Multinational Anti-Avoidance Law showed that Apple, AWS, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Samsung had all paid a decent amount of tax during the 2016-17 financial year.

On revenue of AU$8 billion for 2016-17, Apple paid AU$81 million in tax to the ATO; Amazon Web Services Australia made AU$125 million revenue and paid AU$3.5 million in tax; Facebook Australia made AU$331 million revenue and paid AU$12.5 million in tax; Google Australia made almost AU$1.5 billion revenue and paid AU$33 million in tax; Microsoft made AU$1 billion revenue and paid AU$53.5 million in tax; and Samsung Electronics Australia made AU$2.4 billion and gave the ATO just under AU$20 million in tax.

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