Tag: Europe

Amazon wins tax case

Online bookseller and purveyor of talking radios, Amazon, has won a decade old case against the US taxman.

The Internal Revenue Service wanted Amazon to pay more than $1.5 billion over transactions involving a Luxembourg unit.

Judge Albert Lauber of the US Tax Court rejected a variety of IRS arguments, and found that on several occasions the agency abused its discretion, or acted arbitrarily or capriciously.

The case involved transactions in 2005 and 2006, and could boost its federal tax bill by $1.5 billion plus interest. It also said a loss could add “significant” tax liabilities in later years.

Amazon made just $2.37 billion of profit in 2016, four times what it made in the four prior years combined, on revenue of $136 billion.

In one of the more pot calling the kettle black moves of the US elections, Donald (Prince of Orange) Trump claimed that Amazon did not pay enough taxes and accusing it on Fox News of “getting away with murder tax-wise”.

The IRS case involved “transfer pricing,” which arises when different units of multinational companies transact with each other.

Amazon argued that the IRS overestimated the value of “intangible” assets, such as software and trademarks, it had transferred to a Luxembourg unit, Amazon Europe Holding Technologies SCS.

Amazon did this through a plan called “Project Goldcrest,” to have the “vast bulk” of income from its European businesses taxed in Luxembourg at a “very low rate”.

Amazon has said it may face more tax bills in Europe if authorities in Brussels conclude that prior rulings by Luxembourg tax officials amounted to improper “state aid” that gave it an unfair advantage over rivals.

Euro coppers crack down on counterfeit sites

arrestCoppers across Europe have seized more than 4,500 website domains trading in counterfeit goods, often via social networks.

Europol, Europe’s police agency, unveiled its newest campaign dubbed “Don’t F***(AKE) Up” to stop scam websites selling fake brand names online.

In a statement the agency said that the internet has become an essential channel for e-commerce. Its instant global reach and anonymity make it possible to sell nearly anything to anyone at any time.

“Counterfeiters know it and are increasingly exploiting the unlimited opportunities” the internet offers.

But Europol warned that “despite these products looking like a bargain, they can pose serious risks to the health and safety of buyers.”

The crackdown involved agencies from 27 countries mostly in Europe but including from the US and Canada, joined forces to shut down over 4,500 websites.

They were selling everything from “luxury goods, sportswear, spare parts, electronics, pharmaceuticals, toiletries and other fake products,” Europol said in a statement, without saying how long the crackdown took.

Europol director Rob Wainwright said the arrests are getting to be an annual event and this year saw a significant increase in the number of seized domain names compared to last year.

Dutch anti-fraud police grabbed 12 people in the Netherlands, which should have made their eyes water,  and searched homes and warehouses.

Most of the raids were prompted by online sales of counterfeit goods on social networking sites such as Facebook and Instagram.

More than 3,500 items of clothing and fake luxury goods were seized in Holland, including shoes, bags and perfumes purporting to be such brands as Nike, Adidas, and Kenzo, with a market value of tens of thousands euros.

Cook turns into broken record over EU fine

tim-cook-apple-ceoThe Grand Pooh-Bah of the fruity cargo cult, Tim Cook has dismissed his outfit’s huge European fine as “political crap”.

For those who came in late, Apple was hit by a $14.5 billion back tax bill this week by the European Union.

Cook claimed that the problem was not that Apple had paid less than one percent of its stonking profits to the Irish government and funnelled all its European profits though its dodgy Irish bank account.

“No one did anything wrong here and we need to stand together. Ireland is being picked on and this is unacceptable. It’s total political crap,” he moaned.

Instead, claimed Cook, Apple was being targeted because the EU was “anti-American”.  In other words this was only happening because this was an American company helping to make America Great again. European’s should consider yourself lucky that you are even allowed to buy American goods in your backward European bloc.  All that was lacking was for him to burst into a few bars of the Star Spangled Banner while smearing a good wholesome Apple pie on his private parts while moaning that if it was not for America everyone in Europe would be speaking German.

However, this is not the first time that Cook has used the phrase “total political crap” and waded into a government for insisting that Apple pay what it owes.  However, in that case it was the glorious USA he was moaning about.  In an interview with Charlie Rose on 60 Minutes in December, Cook complained that the US Tax Code was made for the industrial age, not the digital age.

“ It’s backwards. It’s awful for America. It should have been fixed many years ago. It’s past time to get it done, he moaned

Charlie Rose pointed out that a government inquiry had found that Apple was engaged in a sophisticated scheme to pay little or no corporate taxes on $74 billion in revenues held overseas.

Tim Cook replied: “That is total political crap. There is no truth behind it. Apple pays every tax dollar we owe.”

Does this sound familiar? It seems that whenever Cook is cornered about tax he starts screaming about “political crap” and how Apple pays what it owes.  Yet underlying the whole thing is that Apple is found not to be paying what it owes.

It is as if Cook is really an iRobot programmed to shout “political crap” and repeat a mantra “Apple pays what it owes” whenever a government has the gall to ask Jobs’ Mob to be a responsible corporate citizen.

Cook told the newspaper in an interview he would work closely with Ireland to try to overturn the decision and said the US tech giant was committed to its operations in Ireland.  We guess that is because the Irish politicians do what they are told and don’t ask more than the single percent tax Apple is prepared to pay.


Sharp rethinks foreign brand licensing deals

sharp2Troubled Japanese telly maker Sharp is having a rethink of its  TV brand licensing deals overseas in an effort to boost its global presence now it is ruled by the glorious Foxconn empire.

In a statement the company said it had decided to review our current brand licensing business in Europe and Americas, and are currently examining various possibilities.

The comment follows a report by the Yomiuri newspaper that Sharp will dispatch officials next month for negotiations to buy back its TV business in the United States and Europe.

Sharp effectively exited the money-losing TV business in those markets and licensed its brand to China’s Hisense Group in the Americas and to Universal Media Corp Slovakia in Europe.

The withdrawal from the money-losing TV business abroad helped Sharp trim its losses in April-June.

But Sharp now believes that it can make profits out of the TV business by taking advantage of Foxconn’s procurement power in the supply chain and its vast network of clients, the Yomiuri said.


EU-USA data deal a way away

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, an analyst with a U.S. defence contractor, is pictured during an interview with the Guardian in his hotel room in Hong KongThe European Commission said today that it will probably come to a deal with the USA over data transfer within about three months.

A European Union recently ruled the existing “safe harbour” agreement was out of order after whistleblowers like Edward Snowden (left) revealed that the US government was using it to spy on all sorts of things European, including Angela Merkel.

US espionage agencies also picked up information about European citizens from Google, Facebook, Microsoft and other companies.

There’s a hiatus between now and then which are causing bsuinesses on both side of the pond to lose business.

But companies can transfer European data to the USA by using standard contracts and asking people for their consent.

The USA resisted European demands that it restricted targeting people in Europe to carefully targeted cases.

Europe puts end to mobile roaming charges

European flagThe European Parliament voted today to abolish mobile roaming charges in the bloc.

That means that if you go on holiday and use your mobile phone, you won’t come back to an enormous bill from your provider.

People will pay the same rate in Europe.

The EU has fought against high roaming charges for a decade.

The costs of roaming are already set to be cut in April next year, and it won’t be until the middle of 2017 that the roaming charges will be completely abolished.

Europe says bitcoins don’t attract VAT

cashA ruling from the European Court of Justice today said that bitcoins and equivalent to banknotes and other forms of money and don’t attract value added tax (VAT).

Sweden put in a request for legal clarification because the taxman there said bitcoin shouldn’t be exempted from VAT.

But the court ruled that bitcoins are a method of payment and so were exempt under a European directive.

A report in Reuters said the court said “[bitcoin] transactions are exempt from VAT under the provision concerning transactions relating to currency, bank notes and coins used as legal tender”.

EU court cans US data deal

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, an analyst with a U.S. defence contractor, is pictured during an interview with the Guardian in his hotel room in Hong KongThe Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) has decided that an arrangement between thousands of companies to shift data to the USA is invalud.

Large companies including IBM, Google, Microsoft, Amazon and others use the deal, set up between the USA and the European Commission 15 years ago.

The deal called, the Safe Harbour agreement is now invalid.

The ruling strikes at the heart of commerce between the USA and the EU, and follows revelations  by NSA contracted Edward Snowden (pictured) about the US Prism programme that allowed security authorities to snoop on individuals’ private data.

While details are still sketchy, it appears that different data authorities in the different countries might have to make decisions about data transfers in their own territories.

The case started after a complaint by an Austrian law student that wanted a decision on whether Facebook transferring European users’ data to servers based in the States was licit.

EU probes big data

European flagA report said that banks and insurers in Europe are facing regulation over their use of big data.

According to Reuters, three EU financial regulators issued a statement today saying they would look at the challenges big data poses by potential misuse.

The European Banking Authority, the European Securities and Markets Authority and the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority said they would investigate big data to see if use of big data needed regulation.

The speed of computing allied with big data analytics could mean that peoples’ personal security could be compromised by profiling data based on an individual’s profile.

Analysing big data has become important to banks and to other financial bodies because they believe they can make money out of spotting patterns and such patterns could be misused.

Connection speeds in Europe up

Ruins in YorkA survey by Akamai said that connection speeds in Europe were showing a healthy growth by and large with seven countries in the global top 10 countries.

Akamai said that all European countries it surveys showed average connection speeds were above the 10 Mpbs threshold.

Sweden achieved the top spot in Europe with a 16.1 Mbps average connection speed.

Globally, average peak connection speeds rose by 12 percent to 32.5 Mbps. Nine of the countries had speeds of at least 50 Mbps with Romania topping the list with an average peak connection speed of 72.1 Mbps.

The UK had average connection speeds of 11.8 Mbps – a rise of 7.6 percent year on year, but that leaves the country at number 19 in the worldwide broadband lead table.

In the second quarter, the UK showed 85 percent of broadband was at 4 Mbps or more. The average page load time for a broadband connection was 3138 ms in the second quarter.