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

US Storm Falls Short of Severe Predictions, Yet Affects Millions

Governors of several East Coast states close schools, order travel bans, urge people to stay home as snowfall, heavy winds, flooding continue in areas More

Millions of Displaced Nigerians Struggle with Daily Existence

Government acknowledges over a million people were displaced in 2014 due to fight against Boko Haram insurgency More

Facebook: Internal Error to Blame for Outages

Temporary outage appeared to spill over and temporarily slow or block traffic to other major Internet sites More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

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

All About America

AppleAndroid