Spanish government must use revenues from "Google Tax" to support journalism

  • 22 Jan 2021

A new tax on some digital services in Spain is expected to generate huge revenues this year that journalists' unions say should be used to help support media jobs.

A new tax on some digital services in Spain, dubbed the Google Tax, is expected to generate huge revenues this year that journalists' unions say should be used to help support media jobs.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its Spanish affiliates welcomed the new tax on digital giants who pay little or no tax in the country and have called on the government to use this fund to support public service journalism.

The Google tax is similar to taxes already implemented in other European countries such as Germany, France or Belgium, which imposes levies on internet aggregators for linking to media content that is protected by intellectual property rights.

The tech giant has threatened to pull out of Australia after being told it must pay for the news content it uses on the platform.

This new tax, approved by the Spanish government in February 2020, affects digital multinationals with global turnover of over €750 million and revenues in Spain of more than €3 million. According to the Spanish government's plans, the tax will generate around €1 billion euros (€968 million). These revenues will be used to support sectors most affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The economic activities of Google and other tech giants often go untaxed or are subject to low levels of taxation, undermining jobs and businesses.

While the IFJ welcomes the Spanish initiative, and calls on other countries to tax the techs, the Federation and its Spanish affiliates urged the government to recognise that journalists and media are the most affected by Google and Facebook, which have built a fortune through using media content for free and capturing the advertising revenues generated by the work of journalists. A part of the newly generated revenues must be used to support journalism.

Anthony Bellanger, IFJ general secretary, said:

"The world is now facing a simultaneous crisis - economic, health and environmental - and the discussion on a fair tax system cannot be postponed any longer. We praise the Spanish efforts to tax digital giants operations but it's essential that a part of the revenues goes to journalists and the media sector".

Nemesio Rodríguez, president of the Federation of Associations of Journalists of Spain (FAPE), said:

"The Google tax is an extraordinary opportunity for the government to use the new income to support journalists and the media, as they hold the copyright of the content used by technological platforms to do business. It would be a way to help journalism remain an essential public service."

Agustín Yanel, general secretary of the Federation of Journalists' Unions (FeSP), said:

"We support the implementation in Spain of the Google tax because it is fair that large multinational companies pay their taxes in the countries where they make revenues, as all taxpayers do. Technological companies obtain millionaire benefits thanks to the journalists' work, so this tax should serve to help the journalistic sector, seriously affected by the pandemic in Spain."

Asociación de Periodistas de FSC-CCOO said the media and journalists have been "seriously affected by the Covid-19 pandemic crisis" and called on the government to "use a part of the collected funds to support public service journalism". 

The UGT Journalists Association said:

"We support the application of the Google and the Tobin tax. In the case of Google, they will start paying a tax rate for what they earn and not a ridiculous amount as the American multinational has been doing until now. The Tobin Tax, albeit in a lukewarm form, will contribute to the improvement of public services".

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