U.S. calls taxes on web giants ‘discriminatory’

ReutersPARIS (Reuters) — The United States thinks a French plan for a tax specifically targeting digital companies would be discriminatory, a senior U.S. Treasury official said Tuesday.

France, Britain, Italy and Spain are pushing ahead with plans for such taxes at the national level after EU countries failed to reach an agreement for the bloc as a whole.

Countries outside the EU such as Australia are planning similar taxes in the absence of a broader reform of international tax rules to account for the rise of companies such as Apple, Google and Facebook.

Chip Harter, the U.S. Treasury’s top international tax official, said such taxes were “ill conceived” and it was better to pursue broader international tax reform at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

“The challenges facing the international tax system are just far broader than how to tax social media and search engines,” Harter said.

Digital giants can book profits in countries with the lowest taxes, no matter where the customer is, which some countries say is unfair.

“The United States opposes any digital services tax proposals whether they be French or British,” Harter said.

“Various parts of our government are studying whether that discriminatory impact would give us rights under trade agreements, WTO, treaties,” he added.Speech

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