SAP co-CEO to influence EU Internet taxation rules

Co-CEO of SAP will advise lawmakers on how to tax Europe's digital economy

The head of SAP has been appointed to a top European Union group that is supposed to come up with new ways to tax goods and services sold over the Internet.

The co-CEO of the business software provider, Jim Hagemann Snabe, is joined by six other experts, but is the only industry representative of industry on the panel, according to a Thursday announcement.

The group will be headed by Vítor Gaspar, former finance minister of Portugal, and will try to identify improvements in Internet taxation in the E.U. The group's report, which is expected in the first half of 2014, will influence new tax rules in the future.

A Commission spokesman said that the group had been given a completely open mandate to focus on whatever they think important: "Obviously they will consider things like sales of music, streaming video, web advertising, etc. But it is up to the group to define which areas of the digital economy need better taxation laws."

According to the European Commission, which set up the group, its focus will be on "identifying the key problems with taxing the digital economy from an E.U. perspective, and presenting a range of possible solutions."

"Today's tax systems were conceived in a pre-computer age. So it is no surprise that they often clash with the modern, digital economy. Taxation must not be an obstacle to all that is good about the digital revolution. Yet, we must also ensure that the digital sector plays fair and pays fair," said Taxation Commissioner Algirdas `emeta when he announced the group.

The other five experts are: Pierre Collin from the French Conseil d'Etat; Michael Devereux from Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation; Tea Varrak from the Mektory Innovation and Business Centre in Estonia; Mary Walsh, a tax expert and consultant in Ireland; and Björn Westberg from Jönköping International Business School in Sweden.

Follow Jennifer on Twitter at @BrusselsGeek or email tips and comments to jennifer_baker@idg.com.

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