The digital levy

12 April 2021

Introduction

The objective of the initiative is to introduce a measure that allows for a fairer contribution from companies that operate in the digital sector, in order to support the economic recovery and provide a more stable medium-term outlook.

The questionnaire should take about 30 minutes to complete. The questionnaire is accessible in English in a first instance, but will be made available in all official EU languages shortly. You can submit your reply in any of the official EU languages.

Some of the questions are conditional on the type of respondent you represent, so you might not see all the questions and the numbering will seem interrupted. This is normal.

In addition to the introduction, the consultation is structured as follows:

  • The 2nd section presents some general background information on the digital economy.
  • The 3rd part of the questionnaire asks for some background information about you, the respondent.
    This is in order to better understand your perspective.
  • The 4th part covers the current international taxation framework and its shortcomings.
  • The 5th part covers possible solutions to address those shortcomings.
  • The final section allows you to upload a position paper or any kind of document that you think is relevant to better explain your views.

Context

The European Commission has set out strategic objectives on how to shape Europe’s digital future and to help ensure that Europe is fit for the Digital Age. Technological advancements and digitalisation are profoundly changing the way we work, do business, how people travel, communicate and relate. These changes give rise to innovation, growth, and new business models, but also to important challenges. The COVID crisis has been a catalyst and accelerator of change, hastening the transition towards a more digital world and triggering important changes in behaviour that could have lasting effects.

Against this backdrop, the EU needs a modern, stable regulatory and tax framework to appropriately address the developments and challenges of the digital economy. Recently, the Commission adopted the Digital Services Act package, which aims at better protecting consumers and their fundamental rights online, and at promoting fairer and more open digital markets for everyone. This new proposal covers digital services, including social media, online market places, and other online platforms that operate in the EU. While digitalisation can increase productivity and consumer welfare, and should thus be fostered and nurtured, it is also of paramount importance to ensure that digital companies contribute their fair share to society, since a prolonged unequal distribution of rights and responsibilities undermines the social contract.

Work is ongoing at the G20 and OECD level to find a global solution that can support a reform of the international corporate tax framework in order to address some of the challenges related to the digitalisation of the economy. A number of elements remain to be agreed, but there are indications that the OECD agreement will focus on large, multinational enterprise groups and a limited number of pre-defined activities linked to digitalisation. In the absence of a global agreement, some Member States have in the meantime introduced certain temporary tax measures affecting businesses that are part of the digital economy.

In its conclusions of 21 July 2020, and in view of a need to support the EU’s borrowing and repayment capacity, the European Council tasked the Commission with putting forward proposals for additional own resources. The digital levy is one of them. The new initiative will help address the issue of fair taxation related to the digitalisation of the economy but will not interfere with the ongoing work at G20 and OECD level on a reform of the international corporate tax framework.

The main objective of the initiative is to come forward with a measure that allows for a fairer contribution from the companies that operate in the digital sphere for the purposes of the recovery and to support a more stable medium-term outlook. Modernising tax rules to better fit current circumstances and the expected increase in digitalisation should ensure that the measure fits the reality of the digital economy better and addresses future developments head on, limiting the risk of short-term solutions and distortions across businesses of different types and origins.

The initiative will be designed in a way that is consistent with the Digital Services Act package and the Commission’s digital strategy for ensuring a fair and competitive digital economy, as announced in the Communication ‘Shaping Europe's digital future’.

See the full questionnaire