Social media firms should pay tax in Turkey: Finance minister

Social media firms should pay tax in Turkey: Finance minister

Social media firms should pay tax in Turkey: Finance minister

Turkish Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek, who is seen in this file photo, said Twitter and other social media firms should pay taxes in Turkey. CİHAN photo

The Turkish finance minister has said global social media giants should pay taxes in Turkey as they earn ad revenue. He added the Constitutional Court’s recent ruling in favor of lifting the ban on Twitter will make it harder for the government to take steps to change that.

“Many companies operating in the social media field, including Twitter, earn undeserved gains from Turkey and don’t pay the taxes they should be paying,” Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek said on April 9, when he was asked about Twitter’s plans of opening a representative office in Turkey.

“We see this as a very serious problem,” he said during an interview with local broadcaster CNBC-e.
According to rules of Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the subject should be a company for the government to be able to collect taxes from it, Şimşek said, claiming this is why these social media firms don’t prefer incorporation in Turkey.

“These companies say ‘We don’t have operations in Turkey, you can’t impose tax on us.’ We say ‘You excerpt gains in Turkey, you should have a company in Turkey and you have to pay tax.’”

“They earn great amounts of undeserved gains,” he repeated.

The minister said the Constitutional Court’s decision that ruled the government’s ban on Twitter violated freedom of speech has weakened the government’s stance.

“These kinds of decisions tie our hands. If a taxable evades tax, what we can do is clear, but at this moment, our power of sanctions has been weakened by the decision,” he said.

The Constitutional Court ruled the ban was a violation of free speech on April 2, almost two weeks after The TİB blocked access to Twitter on March 20. Hours before the ban, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had vowed to “wipe out” the social media platform.

On April 8, Communications Minister Lütfi Elvan hinted that the company will open an office in the country, announcing representatives from Twitter are set to come to Turkey in mid-April for talks with Turkish officials.

Access to YouTube has also been blocked in Turkey as of March 27 by the TİB without a court decision, hours after recordings of a key security meeting on Syria were leaked online. YouTube has filed an individual complaint to the Turkish Constitutional Court against the ban, which is currently still in place.