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Maltese FM Concerned About EU's Digital Tax Plans

by Lorys Charalambous, Lowtax.net, Cyprus
12 April, 2018

Speaking at the recent 12th Malta Institute of Management International Tax Conference, the territory's Finance Minister, Edward Scicluna, said the EU must "move with caution" with regards its plans to rewrite the tax rules for the digital economy.

He was discussing the European Commission's two proposals on digital taxation, put forward on March 21. These were for an interim tax on the turnover of companies engaged in digital activities that would otherwise go untaxed, at a rate of three percent; and a longer-term solution, which the EU will seek to achieve international consensus on under the leadership of the OECD, which would establish new digital permanent establishment rules.

It is proposed that a digital platform will be deemed to have a taxable "digital presence" or a virtual permanent establishment in a member state if it fulfills one of the following criteria:

  • It exceeds a threshold of EUR7m (USD8.58m) in annual revenues in a member state;
  • It has more than 100,000 users in a member state in a taxable year;
  • Over 3,000 business contracts for digital services are created between the company and business users in a taxable year.

Meanwhile, the interim measure would be levied on revenues created from selling online advertising space; created from digital intermediary activities; and those created from the sale of data generated from user-provided information. Such would apply only to companies with total annual worldwide revenues of at least EUR750m and EU revenues of EUR50m.

Scicluna said: "In view of these developments, we need to carefully assess the situation and move with caution, particularly on how far one can go when ring-fencing the digital economy for tax purposes. We also need to ask ourselves whether it is wise that the EU should move forward without its international partners on the taxation of the digital economy."

Scicluna stated that the digital economy must not be viewed as just technological innovation but rather as an enabler of the broader economy and society. He also remarked that Malta is aware of the recent developments and is working hard with a view to leading in this area of business. Scicluna concluded by stating that countries should work together towards finding an international solution rather than opting for a quick fix.

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