France looks to tax online ads

Funds to be used to boost legal downloading

BRUSSELS — A panel charged with finding new ways for France to improve legal access to content online has recommended taxing Internet advertising to fund its proposals.

A 1%-2% tax on revenue from sponsored links and banner ads would target companies with bases in the European Union and active in France. A tax threshold would avoid penalizing small operators, so the burden would fall largely on companies such as Google, Microsoft, AOL and Yahoo.

The panel expects the proposed tax to raise $15 million-$30 million a year. If the tax is accepted by the government, national and European regulators would have to approve it before it could be introduced.

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