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Welcome to Paris! Tax Protest Blights Opening of Apple’s New Champs-Élysées Store

November 19, 2018, 11:15 AM UTC

Apple’s newest store — on Paris’s Champs-Élysées — opened to much fanfare on Sunday, but probably not the type of fanfare the company was looking for.

A brass band and a boisterous group of revellers gathered outside the new shop, throwing confetti and wearing party hats, but they were there to call on the company to pay its taxes in Europe. The group that organized the protest, Attac, or the Association for the Taxation of Financial Transactions and Citizens Action, claims that Apple has found success because of how it “extorts” billions from citizens by using creative techniques to book profits.

Attac is critical of French President Emmanuel Macron, who they say has not done enough to tackle multinational tax practices. But French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire has been much more bullish on tax regulation. He has demanded E.U.-wide legislation to tax digital multinationals such as Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Microsoft by the end of the year. A French proposal for such a tax has been on the table since March, but not much progress has been made.

Meanwhile in the U.K., Phillip Hammond, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, unveiled a plan to tax multinational internet businesses last month that would go into effect in 2020 with projected annual revenues of nearly $650 million (£500 million). Hammond had threatened earlier in the fall that the U.K. (which is already unwinding its relationship with the E.U.) would “go it alone” to implement the tax if the E.U. version continued to stall.