Spain’s new Google and Tobin taxes to generate about €1 billion this year

Nadia Calviño, Spain's Minister of Financial Affairs. [EFE /Angel Diaz]

Spain’s new taxes on digital and financial services, approved last year, came into force on Saturday (16 January). The first collection is expected in March or April, EURACTIV’s partner EFE reports.

More than two years after their announcement by Spain’s socialist government, the “Spanish Google and Tobin” taxes are expected to bring new revenues for the country’s battered finances.

The tourism and services sectors, which are currently largely reliant on government aid to survive, are expected to be among the first to benefit from the tax’s revenues.

However, Spain does not want to feel “alone” in its quest to tax digital giants and the financial services industry. Together with other like-minded countries like Austria, France and the UK, which have already adopted similar measures at national level, Spain is confident that a comprehensive agreement can be reached at EU or OECD level.

In comments made over the weekend, the Spanish government said it intends to “move towards the taxation of the 21st century”.

France to levy tax on digital giants before Biden administration takes office

France confirmed on Wednesday it will levy its tax on digital giants for 2020, following a warning by Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire in October that it would do so. With this decision, however, it risks US countermeasures at a time when it is scrambling for public money amid a devastating pandemic. EURACTIV’s partner Ouest-France reports.

However, doubts remain among experts as to whether the new levies will raise sufficient revenues, with some warning they they could make Spain less attractive for foreign investors, EFE reported.

The Spanish executive – led by the ruling socialist PSOE party and left-wing Unidas Podemos – expects to collect €968 million this year.

The “Google tax” will impose a 3% levy for large firms with a turnover of €750 million or more on a global level and revenues in Spain of more than €3 million for online advertising and intermediation services such as the sale of data based on information from users.

Warnings from the US

The tax prompted stringent warnings from the Office of the US Trade Representative, which warned last week that the tax discriminates against US companies, restricts international trade, and is inconsistent with international tax principles.

The US even went so far as to warn that it will evaluate “all possible options”.

The “Spanish Tobin tax” on financial transactions imposes a levy of 0.2% on operations involving the sale or purchase of shares in big Spanish companies (those in the Stock Market and listed in the Spanish index, IBEX-35) that have a stock market value of more than €1 billion.

In the fiscal year 2021, investments in Spanish companies that exceeded €1 billion in stock market value (until 16 December 2020) are already subject to this tax.

Among them, there is a total of 57 Spanish companies, including Inditex, Iberdrola, Banco Santander, BBVA, Amadeus, Cellnex, Endesa, AENA, Siemens, Naturgy and Telefónica, according to a list by Madrid’s Stock Market.

Europe to push ahead with digital tax despite US ‘threats’

The European Commission plans to put forward a proposal for a digital tax if the international efforts fail this year after the US withdrawal, ignoring Washington’s threats if Europe moves ahead.

[Edited by Frédéric Simon]

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