top-selling Bild newspaper, citing a confidential finance
ministry document, reported that Scholz had abandoned plans to
hike taxes for big digital companies because a "demonization" of
the firms was seen as "not productive".
The move would have been a reversal for Scholz, a senior member
of the Social Democrats (SPD). In last year's national election,
his party campaigned for higher taxes on large, global internet
firms. The SPD is the junior partner in a coalition led by
conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel.
"There has been no decision made yet by the minister or the
ministry on one or more instruments," a finance ministry
spokesman said when asked to comment on the Bild report.
"The debate is still ongoing, also among the finance ministers
of Europe and the G7/G20 countries. The Federal Government still
aims to ensure a fair taxation of internet companies," the
Germany has long been cool on proposals from the European
Commission which would make firms with significant digital
revenues in Europe pay a 3 percent tax on their turnover on
various online services in the European Union. That would bring
in an estimated 5 billion euros ($5.78 billion).
The finance ministry spokesman said the newspaper had "very
selectively" cited from an internal document in which officials
had simply summarized various models and proposals.
"Such reports are common practice to inform the head of the
ministry," the spokesman said, adding that Scholz was still
weighing his options.
Scholz remains convinced that large digital companies must make
a "fair contribution" to the financing of public goods, in
particular by preventing them from avoiding taxation by shifting
profits and through tax optimization, he added.
French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire called on Scholz and
other European counterparts to make a decision soon.
"We need to have decided on this matter by January 2019," Le
Maire told television broadcaster LCI, adding politicians would
be judged on their actions in next May's European elections.
Le Maire said a small- or medium-sized company in an EU country
such as France, Germany or Italy was paying 14 percentage points
more in tax than Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple.
"If we are incapable of re-establishing a fair tax system, of
taxing the digital giants, we will pay for it at the ballot
box," Maire said.
(Reporting by Michael Nienaber in Berlin and Richard Lough in
Paris; Editing by Madeline Chambers and Gareth Jones)
[© 2018 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2018 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Thompson Reuters is solely responsible for this content.