Who wants to kill off Mediapart?

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In France, the online press is officially subject to a VAT rate of 19.6%, while the printed press is subject to a VAT rate of 2.1%. This discriminatory tax on the online press has been dismissed as an injustice by successive governments over the past five years, leading to a suspension of its collection by the tax authorities. Mediapart, which with other online press organizations has led a high-profile campaign to have it removed, has for several years openly adopted the same VAT rate as the printed press. But suddenly, the tax authorities this month demanded that Mediapart pay the VAT rate of 19.6%, with backpayments due on every year since it launched in 2008. It has now been informed of the first tax adjustment, concerning the years from 2008 to 2010. Here, editor-in-chief Edwy Plenel details the gigantic sums demanded, and why this sudden and rushed move is plainly designed to put this wholly independent online journal, whose revelatory investigations have shaken administrations past and present, to the sword.  

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On December 26th, Mediapart received the first notification of a tax adjustment totalling more than 1 million euros and which covers the period of its first three years of operation (2008, 2009 and 2010). This not only concerns the sum of backpayments of a discriminatory VAT rate applied to the online press as opposed to the printed press (i.e. a rate of 19.6% instead of 2.1%), it also includes a penalty amounting to 40% of the sum demanded in backpayments, together with interest payments of 4.8% per year for the periods concerned.