Google will pay a billion euros for tax fraud in France

The US Internet giant Google will pay nearly one billion euros (about 1.5 billion CAN dollars) to the French state to put an end to its tax litigation in this country, was it announced Thursday.
He agreed Thursday to pay a fine of 500 million euros to put an end to an investigation for tax fraud of the French National Finance Prosecutor (PNF), according to an agreement validated during a hearing in Paris.

In addition, Google will pay 465 million euros to settle its tax dispute with the French government, said the internet giant, confirming information sources close to the case.

“We ended the tax and related disputes we had in France for many years. These agreements include a payment of 500 million euros that has been pronounced today by a French court, as well as an amount of 465 million euros in additional taxes that we have agreed to pay, “writes Google in a statement .

The transaction, accepted by Google France and Google Ireland, puts an end to the lawsuits for “aggravated tax evasion” committed in 2015 by the PNF and definitively eliminates the prospect of a lawsuit for Google in this case. The multinational has a withdrawal period of ten days.

Through a Public Interest Court Agreement (CJIP), which allows a company to negotiate a fine without going to trial or going through a “guilty plea” procedure, Google recognizes that the alleged facts may correspond to the offense of corporation tax.

In the eyes of the PNF, Google had refrained from paying more than 189 million euros in taxes to the French tax authorities between 2011 and 2016.

The US digital giant has already made such agreements abroad, including the United Kingdom and Italy, where it has paid several hundred million euros to get a prosecution.

The investigation of the PNF had led to searches in the Paris premises of the US group in May 2016.

A hundred police officers and computer experts had been mobilized during this operation, called “Tulipe”. “An extraordinary investigation”, including the wealth of data collected and the complexity of the organization, summarized one of the PNF prosecutors at the hearing.

French Minister of Public Accounts GĂ©rald Darmanin had for the first time opened the way for a “transactional agreement” with Google in 2017, assuring that “many major European countries” had “done so”.

“If Google is ready to enter into a sincere approach with the French government to regularize its situation (…) our door is open. It’s better to have a good deal than a bad one, “said the minister.

Google, along with other US multinationals like Amazon or Facebook, is regularly accused of lowering the revenue it receives in France, via complex arrangements, in order to reduce its taxes.

The US group, whose European head office is located in Ireland – one of the countries with the lowest corporate profits tax (12.5%) in the EU and the world – has always assured ” to respect the French legislation “.

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