Ex-French minister sneers at Amazon executive’s justification of tax bill

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An ex-French minister told the head of Amazon France he was “taking the piss” following the executive told a parliamentary committee that the business paid the French country 420 million euros (approximately $508 million) in 2019 and had earnings of 5.7 billion euros.

“If a French company dared to do that, we would laugh at it,” said Mounir Mahjoubi, France’s former minister for digital affairs and now a lawmaker with President Emmanuel Macron’s party.

The comments late on Wednesday from Mahjoubi, a part of Macron’s inner circle, underline the frustration of a rising number of officials when coping with all the US e-commerce giant.

France has been at the forefront of an international drive to force US digital giants like Amazon to pay high taxes and submit to more regulation.

“I don’t respond to insults like this,” Frederic Duval, the head of Amazon France snapped back at Mahjoubi.

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Mahjoubi had asked him to provide a thorough break-down of Amazon’s sales in France and very clear indication of the corporate taxes that the company pays in the country — a figure Amazon declines to make public.

The 420 million euros includes not only tax but also a wide assortment of levies including France’s significant social security payments for workers that fund the welfare system.

Mahjoubi broke the considerate atmosphere that usually reigns in such meetings to accuse the Amazon manager of messing around.

Amazon’s stellar victory, in particular during the COVID-19 pandemic, has provoked anger and bitterness at the government for failing to bring them online on corporate taxes.

The French government asked Amazon to postpone its Black Friday discounts by a week to place small shops on a more equal footing with all the e-commerce giant as France exited its next lockdown — which it agreed to do, alongside other significant retailers.

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The team at Platform Executive hope you have enjoyed this news article. Initial reporting via our official content partners at Thomson Reuters. Reporting by Mathieu Rosemain, Ardee Napolitano. Editing by Alexandra Hudson.

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