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Google off the hook for $1.3 billion tax bill in France

Paris court rules the tech titan has no taxable presence in the country, relieving it of responsibility for five years of back taxes.

Google isn't responsible for five years of back taxes in France.
Screenshot by Claudia Cruz/CNET

Google won a major victory in one of its many court battles when a Paris court dismissed a 1.11 billion euro ($1.27 billion) tax bill levied against the tech giant.

Paris' administrative tribunal ruled Wednesday that Google's advertising business doesn't have a taxable presence in France, absolving it of responsibility for five years of back taxes for a period ending in 2010. The tax authority had accused Google of routing ad sales in the country through its Ireland-based subsidiary.

The ruling "has confirmed Google abides by French tax law and international standards," Google said in a statement. "We remain committed to France and the growth of its digital economy."

France's budget minister said that the government would appeal the ruling.

The court's decision marks a victory amid a series of legal challenges Google has faced across Europe on concerns including taxes, competition and privacy.

Last month, the European Union slapped Google with a 2.42 billion euro ($2.72 billion) fine for favoring its own shopping services in its search results over those of rivals. The fine is the biggest antitrust penalty the EU has ever applied to a single company, exceeding the $1 billion fine handed to Intel in 2009.

The EU has also taken aim at Google for its Android operating system, expressing concern that consumers will automatically use Google's built-in apps rather than explore other options.

Originally published July 12 at 5:25 p.m. PT.
Updated July 13 at 7:48 a.m. PT:  Added reaction from France's government.

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