Francois Legault in no hurry to tax the giants of the Web

Prime Minister Francois Legault was not in a hurry Wednesday to tax the GAFA (Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple), despite the pressure he suffered from the press companies, unions, mayors and opposition parties.
In a press conference in the National Assembly, he dismissed the possibility of taxing the Web giants in the short term, saying he wanted to wait to see how the federal government will behave on this issue.

“I think it’s better for us to do it with Ottawa,” he said. We already have discussions with the federal government. I think it’s better to do it together. “

The GAFA were blamed this week, in a parliamentary commission on the future of the media, as the major culprits of the unprecedented financial crisis that currently strikes the Quebec press companies.

Every day, they are capturing an ever larger portion of the advertising revenues formerly reserved for the media, without paying a cent to any content producer, some of whom, like the six dailies of the Capitales Médias Group, are bankrupt.

On July 11, France legislated to impose 3% of turnover on its territory by companies like Google and Amazon.

The G7 countries have recently agreed that they will try to agree in 2020 on an international tax. Once it comes into force, France will abolish its tax and refund the companies their payment in the form of a deduction.

“The Quebec government, for its taxes, can decide to do just about anything,” said Legault. But it is not desirable to do it without Canada, without the federal government, and it is ideal to do it with all G7 countries.

“Could we do it unilaterally, the Quebec government? I think so, we could do it. Is it desirable? No, it is not desirable, “he said, without saying whether he feared reprisals from the United States.

The question of whether Quebec should act unilaterally will perhaps arise later, if the Canadian government refuses to move, according to Premier Legault.

“If there were no decision to make, we might be able to ask the question. From the moment the Government of Canada says, “We will do it next year with the other G7 countries,” I think that’s the ideal.

“We must understand that even if tomorrow morning we began to collect taxes on advertising, sales, it would not solve the problem of written media,” he said, while recalling its commitment to present a program of advertising. financial assistance this fall.

The Commission on the Future of the Media will hear a total of 36 speakers by Friday. In addition, she received 62 submissions from people, companies and organizations concerned with the subject.

Other solutions include: a refundable tax credit on the total payroll, a 75% increase in the state advertising budget devoted to traditional media, and the elimination of the contribution of newspaper companies to the paper recycling industry.

Political will

Earlier, Liberal MPs increased pressure on the Caquist government, hammering that the imposition of a GAFA tax is a simple matter of political will.

Former Minister of Finance Carlos Leitão and his tax colleague Marwah Rizqy said in a press briefing that Quebec “can do a lot of things” because it is autonomous in tax matters.

“Revenu Québec does not belong to Ottawa, it’s up to us, Revenu Québec,” insisted Ms. Rizqy. It just takes political will. They do not have any. “If they do not want to act, let them know clearly that they lack political courage,” she said.

The Saint-Laurent elected official recalled that the previous Liberal government forced Netflix to collect the QST. “If the government of the CAQ [Coalition avenir Quà © bec] thinks that we are not autonomous in tax matters in Quebec, they have read the Constitution very badly, very badly read Canadian jurisprudence, and most importantly, they have not us saw action in 2018 in the Netflix file. ”

“There is nothing that prevents us from doing anything,” added Leitão at his side.

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