Bloomberg Tax: Italy Courts Controversy With Adoption of Digital-Revenue Tax

Amazon, Facebook, and other American technology giants could owe Italy hundreds of thousands of dollars under a new digital-revenue tax lawmakers approved as part of the country’s 2019 budget.

The 3 percent tax applies to revenue from online advertising, online sales, and data processing, for companies with global annual revenue of at least 750 million euros, at least 5.5 million from digital services provided in Italy.

Chartered accountant Francesco Marconi, interviewed by Bloomberg Tax, claims that the Italian digital-revenue tax is based on sound logic, but it appeared to be applied in haste and modeled off a short-term solution.

Marconi said Italy’s tax appeared to be a quick fix for its budget showdown with Brussels, offering a way to insert 150 million euro ($172.2 million) into the 2019 budget regardless of the measure’s sustainability. In its current form the tax is almost a hybrid income/value-added tax, with certain provisions—such as assessment of penalties and a joint-liability scheme—that either directly cite or mirror Italy’s VAT laws, he declares.