December 29, 2018 / 11:26 AM / 18 days ago

Austria plans digital tax while EU keeps working on its own levy

FILE PHOTO - European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs Pierre Moscovici attends a news conference at the end of a eurozone finance ministers meeting in Brussels, Belgium, December4, 2018. REUTERS/Yves Herman

VIENNA (Reuters) - Having failed to broker a deal on a digital tax during its European Union presidency, Austria said on Saturday it planned to introduce its own levy on tech companies including Facebook (FB.O) and Amazon (AMZN.O) while the bloc works on its plan.

Austria’s six-month tenure of the rotating EU presidency ends on Tuesday, when the role will pass to Romania.

At a meeting this month, EU finance ministers failed to agree a tax on digital revenues, despite a last-minute Franco-German plan to salvage the proposal. European Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici has since said the plan for an EU-wide tax remains on the table.

“In addition to the European plan ... we will take a national step. We will introduce a digital tax in Austria,” Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said in a statement.

“The aim is clear: taxation of companies that make large profits online but barely pay taxes - such as Facebook and Amazon,” he added, without elaborating.

Finance Minister Hartwig Loeger is working on the proposal, which will be part of a tax reform next year, the statement said. Details of the digital tax will be announced at a cabinet meeting on Jan. 10-11.

Austria had previously said it would create a digital tax if the EU failed to introduce one of its own, but Kurz’s statement stopped short of saying the EU plan was dead.

“A lot of progress was made at the European level (during Austria’s presidency). There is an agreement in principle that there should be an EU digital tax,” Kurz said.

Reporting by Francois Murphy; Editing by Kevin Liffey

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