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France: We are not Britain, there will be no deal with Google

Staff writer |
France will "go all the way" to ensure that multinationals operating on its soil pay their taxes and more cases could follow after Google and McDonald's were targeted by tax raids, Finance Minister Michel Sapin said.

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Finance Minister Michel Sapin, speaking in an interview with Reuters and three European newspapers, ruled out negotiating any deal with Google on back taxes, as Britain did in January.

Asked if tax authorities could strike a deal with the tech giant, he said: "We don't do deals like Britain, we apply the law."

Google agreed in January to pay 130 million pounds ($190 million) in back taxes to Britain, prompting criticism from opposition lawmakers and campaigners that the sum was too low.

"There won't be negotiations," Sapin said, adding that there was always the possibility of some marginal adjustments "but that's not the logic we're in."

Dozens of French police raided Google's Paris headquarters, escalating an investigation on suspicions of tax evasion. Investigators searched McDonald's French headquarters on May 18 in another tax probe.

"We'll go all the way. There could be other cases," Sapin said.

Raids this month by police and justice investigators build on the work started by tax authorities three or four years ago, when they transferred tax data to judicial authorities that look into any possible criminal angle, Sapin said.

Google, McDonald's and other multinational firms such as Starbucks are under increasing pressure in Europe from public opinion and governments angry at the way businesses exploit their presence around the world to minimise the tax they pay.


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