EUROPEAN CONFLICT: GOOGLE FACES FIGHT IN FRANCE OVER ITS TAX BILL
By SAM SCHECHNER
PARIS— Google Inc. Chief Executive Larry Page met with France’s premier late last month and quietly pressed home a message: Google has invested heavily in France and is willing to do more.
In a half-hour meeting in the gilded office of Prime Minister Manuel Valls, Mr. Page noted that Google has greatly expanded its Paris operation in recent years and set up a fund for French newspapers, and said he was “totally prepared to continue investing in France,” according to people familiar with the meeting. Mr. Valls responded that France welcomed foreign investment.
Barely mentioned, according to one of the people, was an elephant in the room: Google is in the midst of a battle with France over a March tax assessment of possibly over a billion euros. More than just a wrangle over a bill, the fight calls into question an arrangement Google and many other companies use that shields revenue originating in European countries from those countries’ tax authorities.
“France is not anti-Google. But when you look at the profit that they make in France, and the number of customers they have, and the tax they pay, it’s outrageous,” says French Deputy Minister for ...