💂 Google's Gatekeeping Fees

by Sreetama and Anshumi Shah


“Chronic losses and years of tax avoidance!” This is what the records reveal. The USA’s prez has paid $0 in taxes in 10 out of 15 years from 2000 to 2015. Only $750/- was paid in federal income tax in the years 2016 and 2017. And $300M is owed in loans to be repaid by 2024.

Trump’s Taxes has caused a stir worldwide. Do you think it should be made mandatory for the leaders of any country to publish their tax returns?

💂 Google’s Gatekeeping Fees

Google (& Apple) take a 30% cut from in-app purchases, downloads, and subscription payments from non-Apple/Google apps. App developers call this a tax. While many apps would detest that, the fan-favorite game of Fortnite took an action against that. It added its in-app payment option with an additional discount for not paying it through the PlayStore and App Store. The consequence? They threw Fortnite out of their stores. 

What you now see is a thread of lawsuits and rebuttal that followed….

Woes of the Weary

Fortnite’s company Epic Games filed a lawsuit against Google and Apple, accusing them of anti-competitive and oligopolistic agendas. Epic Games was also mad about the fact that many apps are still thriving without paying such gatekeeping fees. Dating apps maker Match Group Inc is one. They have admitted to not paying Google’s 30% fee! Google went like 🙉

Google’s move

Justifying the brickbats Google is receiving after all of this, it said that less than 3% of developers didn’t pay those “taxes” and now they will. New apps will have to use Google’s payment tools for sales by January 2021, whereas existing apps have till Sept. 30, 2021. Can’t decide what we need more – change in the 30% tax rate (over the 2% fees of usual credit card payments) or better antitrust laws.

There is a consistent question we see everywhere: Is any country trying to build their local app store, to escape such colossal Gatekeeping taxes?

🚫 Can’t Tax This One- Vodafone

According to an order passed by the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague (Netherlands), Vodafone Group Plc.’s $3B tax win is a blow on some of India’s tax laws. 

What’re we talking about? 

Since 2007, a tax row between Vodafone and the taxman has made it unattractive for foreign investors to expand in India. 

Some huge investments were made to and by this UK Operator in 2007 – resulting in vast capital gains. The Indian government wanted a piece of that pie. However, Vodafone stood its ground and rightfully refused to pay any extra taxes. The case was then taken to the Supreme Court. It ordered that the Indian Government couldn’t ask for such taxes as it was out of their jurisdiction. 

Then came the menace. The Indian government demanded $3B in taxes from Vodafone. Through a retrospective law. So, they made a law especially to tax Vodafone’s past actions. 

The hopeful future: After losing the case in an international court, we should aim to see the non-adversarial tax regime and make it easier to do business in India. 

️🖐️We Ain’t Backing Off- EC to Apple

Do you remember Apple’s 13 billion euros Tax-Row? Let’s jog your memory…In 2016 Apple was ordered to pay 13 billion euros as unpaid taxes and 1.2 billion more as an interest to Ireland. But in July, the European Union’s 2nd highest court annulled the case. It ruled out that the commission had failed to prove that the Irish Government had given Apple a tax advantage. But the question was…would they meet again? Yes, The European Commission is going to appeal to the highest Court of Justice. Let’s see how this turns out for Apple.

📱 We’re Backing Off (for now)- Apple to FB

Facebook had taken an aim at Apple following the epic showdown with Fortnite in August. But Apple and Facebook have called a truce for now. Apple has backed off on its demand for a 30 percent cut of all revenue generated by online events that Facebook is letting small businesses sell via its iPhone app. The changes also affect other companies including ClassPass and Airbnb, which have been selling online workout classes and “experiences” during the pandemic.

The takeaway: If you’re a yoga instructor who wants to sell an online class for $10 via Facebook, you’ll keep all $10 every time someone pays for a class using an iPhone, instead of losing $3 of that to Apple’s App Store.

And here are some buts: Apple says it will reinstate its 30 percent fee at the end of the year. And Facebook is complaining that Apple won’t remove its 30 percent tax for gamers who want to sell online access to their events.

🕵 Day of The Dead Parade & Bond’s Movie, Spectre – #CraxyTaxStory

Familiar with the Day of the Dead Parade in Mexico City? Are you aware that it exists because of taxes? The Day of the Dead is a holiday that’s been around for a very long time. But the “Parade” itself is a relatively recent addition. It is actually a creation of the James Bond movie “Spectre.”

The story goes like this: The James Bond movie Spectre has this really cool parade opening scene. And if you haven’t seen it, you SHOULD, because it’s pretty much made to look like a ‘single shot’ as he’s going through the parade and goes into a hotel. But the only reason that scene is there is because of ‘tax breaks’ that were given to movies that would highlight Mexico City.

The leak: Do you remember a few years back there was a hack of Sony’s emails? It was believed to have been done by North Korea. And in those emails, there are a bunch of concerns that this movie is going way over budget. Filmmakers start talking about ways that they can redo the opening, which is supposed to take place in Mexico. Also, towards the end of that scene after there’s a whole lot of fighting. They go to a helicopter and start flying around in a helicopter. Now apparently, the reasoning behind that was that they needed to get shots of the modern skyline in order to get ‘more tax breaks.’

How much? $14M to $20M in tax cuts! But the scope was not restricted to showing the elegance of the country. The Mexican government had fought hard for those 8 minutes and extended authority to make casting decisions, dictate characters’ ethnicities, too. (including the Bond-girl)

So, had it not been for these tax breaks, that parade scene might not have been shot. And that people wouldn’t have seen how cool that Day of the Dead Parade could look. They wouldn’t have actually decided to adopt that as their own celebration for the Day of the Dead.

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