Amazon pays ‘less tax in Austria than a sausage stand’

Chancellor criticises multinationals like Starbucks following EU’s ruling on Apple

Multinationals like coffee chain Starbucks and online retailer Amazon pay less tax in Austria than one of the country's tiny sausage stands, the republic's centre-left chancellor lamented in an interview published on Friday.

Chancellor Christian Kern, head of the Social Democrats and a member of the centrist coalition government, also criticised internet giants Google and Facebook, saying that tax subsidies for print media could increase if they paid more tax.

“Every Viennese cafe, every sausage stand pays more tax in Austria than a multinational corporation,” Mr Kern was quoted as saying in an interview with newspaper Der Standard, invoking two potent symbols of the Austrian capital’s food culture.

"That goes for Starbucks, Amazon and other companies," he said, praising the European Commission's ruling this week that Apple should pay up to €13 billion in taxes plus interest to Ireland because a special scheme to route profits through the State was illegal state aid.


Apple has said it will appeal the ruling, which chief executive Tim Cook described as "total political crap".

Google, Facebook and other multinational companies say they follow all tax rules.

Low-tax regimes

Mr Kern criticised EU states with low-tax regimes that have lured multinationals to set up there - and come under scrutiny from Brussels.

"What Ireland, the Netherlands, Luxembourg or Malta are doing here lacks solidarity towards the rest of the European economy," he said.

He stopped short of saying that Facebook and Google would have to pay more tax, but underlined their significant sales in Austria, which he estimated at more than €100 million each, and their relatively small numbers of employees - a “good dozen” for Google and “allegedly even fewer” for Facebook.

“They massively suck up the advertising volume that comes out of the economy but pay neither corporation tax nor advertising duty in Austria,” said Mr Kern, who became chancellor in May.