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Jerusalem - Israel To Tax Foreign Companies' Online Activities

Published on: April 11, 2016 06:01 PM
By: Reuters
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A blimp reading "Kahlon, tax Google", in reference to Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, is seen floating near the building hosting Google's offices in Tel Aviv in this April 3, 2016 file photo.  The other side of the blimp bears the English slogan "Google must pay tax".  REUTERS/Baz Ratner/FilesA blimp reading "Kahlon, tax Google", in reference to Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, is seen floating near the building hosting Google's offices in Tel Aviv in this April 3, 2016 file photo.  The other side of the blimp bears the English slogan "Google must pay tax".  REUTERS/Baz Ratner/Files

Jerusalem - Israel is to start collecting value added tax (VAT) and income taxes from foreign companies that do substantial business over the Internet in Israel.

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Under new guidelines issued by the Israel Tax Authority on Monday, foreign companies that operate websites and sell various services such as advertising and brokerage will be subject to 17 percent VAT as well as income tax on their activities in Israel.

Companies expected to be affected include Alphabet’s Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Ebay.

These and other companies that do a lot of business in Israel will be required to register with authorities as an approved enterprise so that transactions are liable for VAT.

Until now, a foreign company’s income from providing services in Israel was only subject to tax if it was generated in Israel. A company would be liable for tax only if its activity rendered it a “permanent establishment”.

But the Israeli authorities have widened the definition of permanent to include online businesses, where the economic activity of the foreign company is mainly through the Internet.

“Facebook pays taxes according to the law in every country it operates, including Israel,” the company said in a statement, without elaborating.

A spokesman for Google in Israel declined to comment. Ebay, and Amazon were not immediately available for comment.

The issue has been raised in parliament that foreign firms do not pay the same tax rates as Israeli ones. Last week, a blimp with “Google must pay tax” written across it floated over the Tel Aviv skyline and near Google’s offices.

The tax authority is also seeking to implement a law in which digital services - such as downloading music or books - from a foreign online store would also be subject to VAT.

A blimp reading "Google must pay tax" is seen floating over the Tel Aviv skyline April 3, 2016. Israeli attorney Guy Ofir is the mastermind behind the blimp and told Reuters on Sunday that the airship will float until midnight some 200 meters from Google's offices with the intention of drawing public and media awareness to Google's tax issue. REUTERS/Baz Ratner A blimp reading "Google must pay tax" is seen floating over the Tel Aviv skyline April 3, 2016. Israeli attorney Guy Ofir is the mastermind behind the blimp and told Reuters on Sunday that the airship will float until midnight some 200 meters from Google's offices with the intention of drawing public and media awareness to Google's tax issue. REUTERS/Baz Ratner


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 Apr 12, 2016 at 12:57 AM MarkTwain2 Says:

Just wondering how they are getting around the US-Israel tax treaty, whereby taxation must be symmetrical or else it's disallowed by the treaty. Meaning, the US doesn't tax Israeili companies with no PE and only internet presence so US companies are not required to pay Israel tax on such and Israel is bound by the tax treaty. Companies have successfully used this argument in court such as large UK companies exempting themselves from branch profits tax in the USA.

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