How tech giants underpay African taxes

African countries are missing out on significant tax revenues because multinational tech giants are failing to collect and pay VAT on services, according to new research from TaxWatch.

It’s new report claims that Microsoft, Google and Facebook are not collecting VAT on sales made to customers in most African countries, even in some countries where they have a local office.

The companies say that they will only collect VAT and sales taxes in countries that have levied specific taxes on digital products, claiming that it is up to the customer to pay any taxes due.

However, analysis from TaxWatch shows that these companies should be required to register for VAT under existing VAT rules in many African countries, if they make significant sales.

VAT, a tax on the final consumption of goods and services, is an important source of revenue for tax authorities. An analysis from the OECD shows that on average VAT accounts for 30% of tax revenues in Africa, as opposed to taxes on individuals, which make up just 15.4%. Taxes on corporations account for 18.6% of tax revenues on average.

Since 2013 a number of African countries have changed their laws so VAT is collected on products, such as advertising, sold to customers.

Read the whole story in the October issue of the magazine, out now: