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Morrison Gov Worried Tech Giants Might Have To Pay More Tax

Despite posting a corporate tax bill of just $26.5 million and $11.8 million for Google and Facebook respectively, the Morrison government has expressed concern over the possibility of forcing tech giants to pay more tax, as Communications Minister Paul Fletcher and Treasurer Josh Fydenberg continue to discuss the delayed response to the national watchdogs July Digital Platforms Inquiry Report.

Now stained with fear, Liberal MPs are seemingly bowing to the tech giants over concerns it will be forcing the likes of Google and Facebook to pay a form of tax to media companies for the rights to use their journalism.

As reported by The Australian, Communications Minister Paul Fletcher and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg are worried about the proposed measures of the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC) Digital Platforms Inquiry being interpreted as a new tax which could force companies to relocate overseas.

Google had a corporate tax expense of only $26.5 million in Australia, and Facebook paid just $11.8 million for the year ending December 31, according to the ABC, with Google stating it held ‘contingencies’ relating to ‘ongoing reviews for open tax years by the Australian Taxation Office’.

Perhaps both companies will need to start creating contingency plans for the possibility of a code of conduct between media companies and tech giants if the Morrison government can take a stand against the tech giants.

Holding a preference for jobs and budget surplus, Frydenberg would want to avoid the possibility of losing jobs created by Google and Facebook altogether, which could also result in local revenue losses and further economic stifling.

Frydenberg, Fletcher and Attorney-General Christian Porter are all managing the final response to the Digital Platforms Inquiry report, however, with former Morrison policy director Brend Tegg of TG Endeavour increasing lobbying efforts to soften the government’s response, it doesn’t seem likely that such a tax would be supported in the final response.

 

Facebook, on the other hand, claims it has not made any efforts to lobby the government, stating the company has ‘absolutely no lobbyists’, despite having a registered lobbyist positioned in Canberra.

‘We’re not paying anyone for the ACCC matter or any related matters in Australia,’ said the Facebook spokeswoman.

Though according to the spokeswoman, the social media giant supports 15 of the 29 recommendations and opposes five of them, rejecting any revenue or data-sharing code of conduct with media organisations.

Facebook claims the code of conduct would ‘unfairly shelter media’ companies, which the company claims don’t need protection from the ACCC.

 

Though they did go as far as to accuse the ACCC as being ‘inaccurate’ claiming their ‘speculative analysis’ is based on ‘factual errors’.

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