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Key gives Zuckerberg talking to about tax

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 19/11/2016

<span style="font-size:13px;">Prime Minister John Key says he's given Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg a talking to about the company's tax PR problem at their meeting in APEC.</span> © REUTERS/Stephen Lam Prime Minister John Key says he's given Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg a talking to about the company's tax PR problem at their meeting in APEC. Prime Minister John Key says he's given Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg a bit of a talking to about the company's tax affairs.

Mr Key and Mr Zuckerberg both made speeches at the APEC summit at Lima, Peru on Saturday and did a bit of social networking on the sidelines during the day.

Mr Key afterwards told reporters he had left the Facebook chief "a bit surprised" when he brought up the company's image problem over taxes in their brief catch-up.

"I was reasonably blunt and I said Facebook did have an issue in terms of its global tax, or the perception of its tax policy and I thought he needed to change that."

He said the comments weren't about whether Facebook paid its fair share or tax in New Zealand or anywhere else - "maybe they do, maybe they don't," he said - but about how Facebook had become "shorthand" for multinationals not doing their part.

The company needed to "at least demonstrate to the world that they do actually pay their fair share of tax," Mr Key said.

"If I was running Facebook - or I was running a multinational - in the modern world we live in, I would make sure most countries, or every country felt tax was being fairly paid," he said.

The prime minister was quick to point out Mr Zuckerberg's philanthropy - calling him "incredibly generous" over his vow to donate 99 per cent of his $US45 ($NZ64) billion in Facebook shares to charities over his lifetime - but said the taxes were an issue of perceived fairness.

"Eventually the same people who are their users will wake up one day and say: 'Why do I have to pay my tax if this company is not going to?'"

Mr Zuckerberg was one of about 1500 CEOs at the APEC summit and gave a keynote speech on the importance of connectivity.

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