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Google Not Liable For French Back Tax, Says Court Adviser

by Ulrika Lomas, Tax-News.com, Brussels
Friday, June 16, 2017

An adviser to an administrative court in France has said that Google is not liable for EUR1.1bn (USD1.2bn) in back taxes because the company lacks sufficient presence in the country.

According to numerous reports, the adviser to the administrative court in Paris argued at a hearing on June 14 that Google does not owe the back taxes being demanded by the French tax authority because it does not have a permanent establishment in France.

A court ruling is expected in the case in mid-July, although the adviser's opinion is non-binding.

In May 2016, Google's offices in Paris were raided by more than 100 investigators on behalf of France's tax authority. France's prosecutor's office said at the time that the "searches are the result of a preliminary investigation opened on June 16, 2015, relative to aggravated tax fraud and organized money laundering."

"The investigation is aimed at finding out whether Google Ireland Ltd. is permanently established in France and if, by not declaring some of its activity on French soil, it has failed to meet its fiscal obligations," prosecutors added.

The raid followed confirmation from Google in 2014 that French authorities were seeking payment of additional tax. A regulatory filing from the company said that a notice from French tax authorities concerned the structuring of Google's tax affairs, which it said allow Google to mitigate tax liability where the company says it has limited operations, including in France.