Headline March 15, 2018/ '' 'TAXES 'DIGITAL' TAKES' ''


PARIS : US WARNS OF WTO action over new digital taxes............

The US warned on Tuesday it was considering a complaint at the World Trade Organization over  ''discriminatory'' new taxes on American digital giants such as Facebook and Google planned by France and other EU nations.

''We think the whole theoretical basis of digital service taxes, is ill-conceived and the effect is highly discriminatory against US based multinationals,'' Chip Harter, a Treasury official and US delegate for  global tax talks, said in Paris.

Speaking ahead of two days of talks on the issue in Paris, Harter added that ''various  parts of our government are studying whether that discriminatory  impact would give us rights under trade agreements and WTO treaties.''

''We would very much hope to avoid it, and we are monitoring developments here, and we will have to just see how events unfold in terms  of both what is adopted by different countries, and how much progress is being made at the OECD,'' he added.

The Paris-based OECD [the organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development] is trying to forge a new global agreement on taxing technology and digital giants which often declare their  income in low-tax jurisdictions, depriving other countries of billions in revenues.

That overhaul is expected next year at the earliest, assuming a consensus can be reached among the  127 countries taking part in the talks.

Last week, France unveiled draft legislation that would set a 3 percent levy on digital advertising, the sale of personal data and other revenue for tech groups with more than 750 million euros [$844  million] in worldwide revenue.

Nicknamed the ''GAFA'' tax - for Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon - it would be applied retroactively from Jan 1.

Similar measures are under consideration in Britain, Spain, Austria and Italy as governments look to  respond to voter anger over multinationals paying minimal taxes.

''We do understand there's political pressure around the world to tax various international businesses more heavily, and we actually agreed that that is appropriate,'' Harter told journalists.

''We're trying very hard to maintain a very positive attitude for making progress at the OECD.''

France is in a vanguard of countries planning its own digital tax after efforts to introduce an EU-wide  levy failed because of objections from low-tax  jurisdictions such as Ireland.

There were also fears that the move could worsen trade tensions with the United States and President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly threatened Europe with Trade Tariffs.

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