Business

Italy leans on Amazon to retrieve €100m in unpaid tax

The MEF came, saw, and conquered Bezos' vaults of cash

By Richard Priday

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Amazon and the Italian government have agreed that the online shopping colossus will pay €100m (£88.3m) in back tax for 2011 to 2015, after a year of arguing.

In a statement to Il Messaggero (in Italian), the Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) said that its relationship with Amazon was back on track, and that it would continue to keep a close eye on international businesses operating in Italy.

The MEF's grudge with the internet giants goes back several years, having proposed a "Google Tax" in 2013 that received criticism from the European Commission for being discriminatory.

The EC itself ordered Bezos' crowd to pay back €250m in "illegal state aid" to Luxembourg in October this year, although Amazon said that it "did not receive any special treatment".

In May this year, the Italian authorities managed to get Google to pay €306m (£270.2m), and in 2015, Italy forced Apple to cough up €318m (£280.8m).

Facebook has also recently announced it will start paying taxes in the countries its money is earned in, to better line up with the EU's ideas on how to get a better cut of the multinationals' income.

Compared to the £130m that George Osbourne and the HM Treasury extracted from Google for a 10-year period, it would seem that Italy is much better at wrestling coin from the hands of multinationals.

Amazon said: "We have reached an agreement with the tax authorities on historical matters and remain focused on providing a great shopping experience for our customers in Italy, where we have invested more than €800m since 2010 and created over 3,000 jobs." ®

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