Oct 4, 2017

EU orders Amazon to pay 250 million euros after tax deal

The European Union ordered Amazon to pay back roughly 250 million euros ($294 million) in taxes to Luxembourg. Photo: AP

The European Union ordered Amazon to pay back roughly 250 million euros ($294 million) in taxes to Luxembourg after determining the e-commerce giant had been granted an "illegal" tax advantage dating back to 2003, per Reuters. The EU's Competition Commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, stated that as a result, almost 75% of Amazon's profits hadn't been taxed.

Why it matters: The move highlights the accelerated rate at which the EU is cracking down on the tech titans who have been given unfair advantages over their competitors. And although the fine won't make a huge dent in Amazon's bank account, the bigger concern is the more aggressive ways in which EU regulators are tightening their grip on big tech's expansive power.

Timing: Last year, Apple was ordered to pay Ireland €13 billion ($15.3 billion) in back taxes under a similar arrangement. And in June, Google was slapped with a €2.4 billion ($2.8 billion) fine for abusing its search practices.

Amazon's defense: "We believe that Amazon did not receive any special treatment from Luxembourg and that we paid tax in full accordance with both Luxembourg and international tax law," an Amazon spokesperson told Axios. "We will study the Commission's ruling and consider our legal options, including an appeal."

What's next: "This is only the beginning. Public sentiment has turned against big tech," said NYU's Scott Galloway, author of the new book "The Four," in an email exchange with Axios. "The war against big tech will break out... as the EU registers much of the downside (tax avoidance, job destruction, anti-competitive behavior)... There are few university buildings or hospital wings, in Europe, named after Google or Facebook millionaires."

Go deeper

Updates: Cities move to end curfews for George Floyd protests

Text reading "Demilitarize the police" is projected on an army vehicle during a protest over the death of George Floyd in Washington, D.C.. early on Thursday. Photo: Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Several cities are ending curfews after the protests over the death of George Floyd and other police-related killings of black people led to fewer arrests and less violence Wednesday night.

The latest: Los Angeles and Washington D.C. are the latest to end nightly curfews. Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan tweeted Wednesday night that "peaceful protests can continue without a curfew, while San Francisco Mayor London Breed tweeted that the city's curfew would end at 5 a.m. Thursday.

Murkowski calls Mattis' Trump criticism "true and honest and necessary and overdue"

Sen. Lisa Murkowski. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said Thursday that she agreed with former Defense Secretary James Mattis' criticism of President Trump, calling it "true and honest and necessary and overdue."

Why it matters: Murkowski, who has signaled her discomfort with the president in the past, also said that she's "struggling" with her support for him in November — a rare full-on rebuke of Trump from a Senate Republican.

Facebook to block ads from state-controlled media entities in the U.S.

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Facebook said Thursday it will begin blocking state-controlled media outlets from buying advertising in the U.S. this summer. It's also rolling out a new set of labels to provide users with transparency around ads and posts from state-controlled outlets. Outlets that feel wrongly labeled can appeal the process.

Why it matters: Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook's head of security policy, says the company hasn't seen many examples yet of foreign governments using advertising to promote manipulative content to U.S. users, but that the platform is taking this action out of an abundance of caution ahead of the 2020 election.