News / Europe

Turkey Accuses Twitter of 'Tax Evasion'

FILE - This picture taken on July 20, 2009 in Paris shows the frontpage of Twitter, a leading Internet microblogging site. Turkey's prime minister accused Twitter on April 12, 2014 of tax evasion after the micro-blogging site was used to spread a number of damaging leaks implicating his inner circle in corruption scandals.
FILE - This picture taken on July 20, 2009 in Paris shows the frontpage of Twitter, a leading Internet microblogging site. Turkey's prime minister accused Twitter on April 12, 2014 of tax evasion after the micro-blogging site was used to spread a number of damaging leaks implicating his inner circle in corruption scandals.
Reuters
Turkey urged executives from Twitter to open an office and start paying Turkish tax on Monday in the first direct talks since a two-week ban imposed on the site as the government battled a corruption scandal.
 
Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's government blocked Twitter and YouTube in March, drawing international condemnation, after audio recordings, purportedly showing corruption in his inner circle, were leaked on their sites.
 
The block was lifted 10 days ago after the constitutional court ruled that it breached freedom of expression, a decision Erdogan has since said was wrong and should be overturned. YouTube remains largely blocked in Turkey.
 
The prime minister on Saturday accused Twitter of being a “tax evader”, repeating his combative stance ahead of the talks between his government and the San Francisco-based company.
 
“Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, these are international companies. They're companies established for profit,” he said at the opening ceremony for a purification plant in Istanbul.
 
“We will deal with them. They will come like every international company and comply with my country's constitution, laws and tax rules,” CNN Turk reported Erdogan as saying.
 
A senior Turkish official told Reuters that Twitter's head of global public policy, Colin Crowell, was holding two rounds of talks in Ankara with the aim of opening up a better channel of communication. He described the first meeting as “positive”.
 
“The aim is for the company to pay tax and to resolve the problem of meeting Turkey's just demands by opening a representative office here,” he said.
 
The government estimates that Twitter generates $35 million a year in advertising revenue in Turkey, none of it taxed by Ankara, he said.
 
There was no immediate comment from Twitter.
 
Access to the service was blocked on March 21 in the run-up to local elections to stem a stream of leaked wiretapped recordings. Erdogan said he would “root out” the network.
 
Tech-savvy Turks quickly found workarounds, and the company itself published a tweet to Turkish users instructing them on how to continue tweeting via SMS text message.
 
Tax Model Criticized
 
Because of its nature as a public, broadcast medium and its viral network model, where information can spread exponentially through “retweets,” Twitter has been viewed as a particularly destabilizing force by some governments.
 
The social media site was blocked for roughly four years in Iran following protests during its 2009 presidential election and has also been banned in China since 2009.
 
Turkey said at the time of the ban that access would be restored if Twitter appointed a local representative, paid tax and agreed to block specific content when requested.
 
Like many technology companies, Twitter uses a non-traditional but highly tax-efficient business structure.
 
Its international headquarters are in Dublin but it also has offices in cities from Amsterdam and Paris to Rio de Janeiro and Seoul, according to its website, where staff market advertising services to mainly business customers.
 
However, customers in countries like Turkey, Germany and Britain transact directly with the Dublin-based Twitter International Company, terms of business on its website show.
 
Staff in subsidiaries in countries like Germany and Britain market the company's advertising services to local customers and these subsidiaries are funded by payments from other Twitter companies, like Twitter International, their accounts show.
 
This structure can ensure that Twitter subsidiaries in such countries report little profit and pay little tax.
 
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which has been charged by the G20 with devising a blueprint to crack down on corporate tax avoidance, has criticized such structures, as have parliamentary investigations in the United States and Britain.
 
Turkey has also said it wants the removal of tweets which it considers harmful to national security, the privacy of individuals and personal rights, and wants Twitter to hand over the IP addresses of those accounts which it views as a threat.
 
Last week the head of parliament's constitutional commission, Burhan Kuzu of Erdogan's ruling AK Party, applied to the constitutional court seeking a renewed block on access to Twitter on the grounds of a personal insult against him.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More