International Businesses- At Risk? French Tax Authorities Go After Major Businesses

June 23, 2016



Our own IRS isn’t the only entity to fear when it comes to taxes. Europe has their eye on international businesses as well as wanting their ‘fare share’ of the profits.


The French have widened their investigations and are cracking down on these international businesses concluding a nearly 3-year investigation and auditing of Priceline’s


The French tax authorities operate in a big way - with exactly $397.37 million in unpaid taxes slapped against The majority of this $397.37 million represents penalties and interest. The French are charging the company saying had a permanent base in France and is seeking to recover unpaid income and value-added taxes. is a world leader in online travel and related services. They offer the ‘best prices guarantee’ for reservations in over 900,000 hotels worldwide. The company began in 1996 as a small start-up business based in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Since 2005, they have been owned and operated by the United States based Priceline, continuing its operations center in Amsterdam. They have 176 offices in 70 countries.


Italian tax authorities are also looking into’s tax payments and are considering possible penalties for the company as well. Priceline Group, owner of, stated they have always abided by the French and Italian tax laws. If unable to resolve this issue, the company expects to challenge the charges in the French courts. isn’t the only company the French are going after. On May 24, 2016, dozens of French police raided Google’s Paris office as part of a preliminary investigation into ‘aggravated tax fraud’. The raid came as a complete surprise early Tuesday morning.


The French are investigating the digital giant on suspicion of tax avoidance. Google began their start-up company in a dorm room and garage before moving their company to Mountain View, California in 2004.  Google has more than 68 offices in more than 40 countries around the world and employ over 20,000 full-time employees. There are 20 offices located in the U.S. The French are seeking $1.78 billion in back taxes from Google.


Also targeted by the French was McDonald’s. On May 18th, investigators raided their headquarters in another tax probe. It’s reported that authorities had sent McDonald’s France a 300 million euro bill for unpaid taxes on profits believed to have been funneled through Luxembourg and Switzerland.


French Finance Minister Michel Sapin said “France will go all the way to ensure that multinationals operating on its soil pay their taxes and more cases could follow after Google and McDonald’s were targeted by tax raids”.


The European governments are angry at the way businesses exploit their presence around the world minimizing the taxes they pay. Also in France’s crosshairs - Starbucks, Fiat Chrysler, Apple and Amazon.


If you own a business in Colorado, and want to set it up to make sure you have the lowest tax liability, or have issues on your local or international business and tax shields, contact our Denver business lawyers for assistance. Our business and tax attorneys work hard for the absolute the best possible outcomes for your business. To schedule a consult, call 303-618-2122.


Gantenbein Law Firm also practices Real Estate Law- including HOA and Foreclosure Defense, Credit Disputes, and Estate Planning, Trust, Wills and Probate Law. For more information on these practice areas and our attorneys, visit or call 303-618-2122.







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