Poland proposes ‘Netflix Tax’ amid calls for broader digital levy

A Netflix logo hangs on the company's headquarters in Los Angeles, California, USA, 18 October 2019. [EPA-EFE/CHRISTIAN MONTERROSA]

Poland will introduce a 1.5% levy on the revenue of streaming platforms including Netflix and Amazon, its finance minister said on Wednesday (29 April). The proposal comes as calls mount for a broader taxation on the operation of digital giants in Europe as a means to mitigate the economic fallout from the coronavirus.

A government assessment published earlier this week finds that the new tax could generate up to 15 million Polish zloty (€3.3 million). The study also stated that the largest contributors to the tax would include Netflix, Amazon and Apple TV+.

On a teleconference with journalists on Wednesday, Finance Minister Tadeusz Koscinski said that the new levy “will be a surcharge the culture minister wants to impose on (such) companies that generate profits”. The revenue generated from the new income will be paid directly to the Polish Film Institute, a public cultural organisation.

Netflix did not respond immediately to EURACTIV’s request for comment.

Meanwhile in Brussels, Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni said recently that the strain imposed on Europe’s economy as a result of the coronavirus outbreak highlights the importance of agreeing on a global framework for digital taxation.

Speaking at a Brussels event by videolink on 6 April, Gentiloni said that while the aim is still to come to an international agreement on a levy imposed on digital giants, economic hardships prompted by the virus could be a factor in persuading certain states to back a digital tax.

“Maybe the crisis will help to give a little bit more boost to multilateralism and international cooperation,” Gentiloni said.

“What is clear from the European Union point of view is that we need a digital taxation and we are now working to have it at the global level, which should be the best way to avoid double taxation and other very complicated issues,” he added.

Talks on the digital tax are set to continue at international level at a G20/OECD plenary session scheduled for 1-2 July in Berlin.

At EU level, moves to establish bloc-wide taxation on the digital giants fell flat last year, as it requires unanimous agreement in the Council.

A proposal had been on the table that involved a 3% levy on companies earning €750 million in revenue€50 million of which would need to be EU taxable revenue. However, countries such as Ireland, Finland and Sweden stood against the measures.

But France, Spain and Austria all made their intentions clear with regards to pushing forward with a digital services tax, following the failure to agree on bloc-wide measures.

France, which has passed its own measures to impose a 3% levy on digital giants, has agreed to postpone collection of the new tax after a spat with the US earlier in this year, in which the latter threatened to impose tit-for-tat tariffs.

[Edited by Sam Morgan]

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