Starbucks and Google earn hundreds of millions in advertising money in Austria, yet the multinational enterprises pay smaller taxes than small businesses from the country.
Austrian chancellor Christian Kern pointed out that the nation's staple coffee houses or sausage stands end up paying more taxes than the corporate giants. Kern noted that Amazon only shelled out 1,400 euro ($1,562) in corporate taxes in 2014.
In an interview with Der Standard, he went on to chastise current laws that he considers outdated. Existing Austrian legislation makes use of fees on advertisements to fund the country's independent media. However, the laws do not apply to the online ads that rank titanic profits for the international companies.
"Every Viennese café, every sausage stand pays more taxes in Austria than a multinational corporation. That goes for Starbucks, Amazon and other companies," Kern affirms.
The interview and statement followed a European Commission ruling from earlier this week. The Commission asked Apple to shell out 13 billion euro ($14.5 billion) in back taxes in Ireland, and pointed fingers at European Union members that create better business environments (read: tax exemptions) to foreign companies.
The regulator ruled that Apple was subject to improper tax breaks in Ireland, generating a disadvantage to fellow EU members.
Both the company and Ireland stated that they will appeal the ruling. Tim Cook, the helm of Apple, was rather direct and called out the ruling as unfair.
In retort, Kern underlines that uneven business practices taking place in countries such as Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta or the Netherlands show a severe lack of solidarity with the European economy.
According to Kern, Facebook's earning in Austria rise to 120 million euro ($133.85 million), while Google scores 200 million euro ($223.09 million) in sales in the country, and very little of it goes into the local economy.
He mentions that the enterprises provide reduced personal income tax, as both Google and Facebook employ a few handfuls of people in Austria.
The local laws ask advertisers to contribute a 5 percent fee for advertisements, a percent that Kern thinks could use a bit more oomph. The money from the fee are used to back the country's media.
Austria is not the only country in Europe that collects fees from residents in order to support its national broadcasters, a good example being the British Broadcasting Corporation.
Apologists of the fee say that their existence makes it possible for national media to stay independent of commercial interests. Critics, on the other hand, claim that media can finance itself plainly by advertisements alone.