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France says Amazon owes $252 million in back taxes

Tax claim just the latest flare-up between U.S. tech companies operating overseas.

The French government says that Amazon owes it $252 million in back taxes. The sum includes interest and penalties. Amazon was not immediately available for comment but Reuters quoted a company filing saying that Amazon would fight the claim, which it said was connected to calendar years 2006 through 2010.

Amazon's sales are run out of Luxembourg. Like many other companies operating in Europe, Amazon takes advantage of an EU provision letting it base itself in a member state with low tax rates. Separately, Andrew Cecil, the company's director of public policy confirmed the French government's tax demand during his appearance at a session of the United Kingdom's Public Accounts Committee. He had no comment as to whether other EU states were looking into the way Amazon handled its taxes.

A French publication earlier this fall reported that France's tax administration was demanding one billion euros in taxes from Google. The company says it has not received any tax assessment, but said it was holding talks with the government. No further details were available.