January 3, 2014
Facebook and YouTube will not J’aime the “Culture Tax” that France is Contemplating
France has always been very fond of its culture. So fond, in fact, that it is contemplating taxing Facebook and YouTube for propelling services that affect the cultural fabric of L’hexagone. Under the country’s “cultural exception,” French cinema and music industries are protected against outside-especially American-companies that could harm the propagation of la culture française.
Under the proposal, a 1% tax would be imposed on companies that “have developed partnerships with audiovisual editors and content providers, with which they share advertising revenues.” YouTube and Facebook easily fall into this category. Many trade groups have strongly lobbied against (obviously) such a tax with a vigor that could only be described by the phrase, sacré bleu!
This isn’t the first time that France has tried to widen the culture tax net. In May, the country proposed to tax smartphones and tablets under this theory as well. While that tax has yet to come into force, it has not prevented the homeland of champagne from attempting to add yet other services under the fold. The tax currently rakes in around €1.3 billion ($1.8 billion) annually. The smartphone tax alone would bring in addition €86 million annually, and it is not yet known how much the YouTube/Facebook tax would bring in.
It is important to note that the proposal specifically indicates that private uploads would not be taxed; only professional sites since they have increasingly “become ‘professional’ content providers.” With the dominance that Facebook and YouTube have in the country, it is unlikely they would bid France adieu and au revoir even if a tax was imposed.