ROME Dec 18 Italian lawmakers have revised
proposed legislation that would raise revenue from online
companies including Google and Amazon, but its
passage is still uncertain as the leader of the main ruling
party said it should be scrapped.
Prime Minister Enrico Letta's government last month proposed
the law, dubbed the "Google tax", that would oblige companies
that advertise and sell online in Italy to do so only through
agencies with a tax presence in the country.
The lower house budget committee late on Tuesday, however,
excluded goods bought online from the legislation - also known
as the "Web tax" - making the law applicable to advertising
only. The measure would become law with the passage of the 2014
budget, due by the end of the year.
The measure was scaled back after Matteo Renzi, the new
leader of the Democratic Party (PD), which is the largest in the
ruling coalition, said on Tuesday that it should be scrapped.
It would not tax the multinationals directly, but require
them to use Italian companies to sell their advertisements
rather than doing so through third parties based in low-tax
countries such as Luxembourg, Ireland or outside the European
"Web freedom does not mean the freedom not to pay taxes,"
said lawmaker Francesco Boccia, president of the lower house
budget committee, who is considered close to Prime Minister
Letta and has pushed hard for the measure.
Since both Boccia and Letta are members of the Democratic
Party, which Renzi leads after a landslide victory in a primary
vote earlier this month, it still is not clear where exactly the
PD stands on the issue.
While opponents of the measure say it would probably violate
EU rules, proponents have said it will raise at least 1 billion
euros ($1.37 billion) a year for a country that is struggling to
lower its debt, the second-highest in the EU after Greece.
The Senate is expected to cast the final vote on the 2014
budget before Christmas. The lower house is expected to vote by
the end of the week on whether to include the "Google tax" in
($1 = 0.7283 euros)
(Reporting by Giuseppe Fonte; Writing by Steve Scherer; Editing
by Susan Fenton)