Indonesia presses Google, Facebook to pay more tax

Indonesia presses Google, Facebook to pay more tax
PHOTO: Reuters

JAKARTA - Hoping to boost tax revenue, Indonesia is mulling a new regulation that will require Google, Facebook and Twitter and other foreign online service providers to obtain a "permanent establishment" status in the country.

A permanent establishment means foreign companies will need to "establish a company in Indonesia, a joint venture in Indonesia, or enter into co-operation with cellular operators," Communications and Information Minister Rudiantara told reporters on Tuesday.

The regulation will apply to companies that provide services such as messaging, voice and streaming video over the networks of telecommunication companies. Rudiantara estimated that there are about 20 major companies that fall under this category including Google, which runs the video sharing site YouTube, Facebook, the owner of messaging app WhatsApp, and microblogging service Twitter.

Many of these companies have set up representative offices in Jakarta in recent years, and some have established legal entities. But Rudiantara said they need to "increase their presence" partly because their advertisement revenues are not properly taxed. Currently, payments and settlements for ads are made in jurisdictions outside Indonesia with lower tax rates, Rudiantara said.

Rudiantara has previously told local media that companies failing to comply with the new regulations may be barred from mobile networks. Since late January, the state-owned telecommunication company has been blocking US-based Netflix's video streaming service after it launched in Indonesia. But since services like YouTube and Twitter are widely used, even among government officials, it is unclear whether Indonesia would enforce similar blocks under the new regulation. It is also unclear whether setting up a local company would help generate more taxes for the Indonesian government.

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