Insight - EBay's double tax base prompts calls for investigation.
(Reuters) - Britain and Germany may have missed out on a combined $1 billion (623 million pounds) in sales tax since online marketplace eBay picked a tiny Luxembourg office as its base for EU sales, a shift that lawmakers say should now be investigated.
EBay's nomination of Luxembourg unit eBay Europe Sarl - with a staff of nine - as its provider of services to EU clients allows it to charge customers in Europe a low rate of sales tax, often known as Value Added Tax, helping it to compete against rivals.
However, the unit doesn't actually receive the money from sales. Instead, eBay said it continues to channel revenues through a Berne-based unit, allowing the company also to benefit from what Swiss tax lawyers say is the most competitive corporate income tax regime in Europe.
EU rules allow companies to establish subsidiaries in Luxembourg and levy VAT at Luxembourg's low VAT rate on sales to customers across the bloc.