GAFA: Washington brandished the threat of the WTO

GAFA: Washington brandit la menace de l’OMC

Photo: Lionel Bonaventure Agence France-Presse
The GAFA (Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple) are to blame for take advantage of the intangible nature of their operations to artificially reduce their taxes payable.

The United States is threatening to bring it before the world trade Organization (WTO), the european projects tax the Internet giants.

“We believe that the theoretical basis of taxes on digital services, is poorly designed and the result is extremely discriminatory against multinational corporations based in the United States,” said Tuesday in Paris the head of the Treasury and united states delegate for the discussions of international tax, Chip Harter. Also, the United States, ” are investigating whether this discriminatory impact [their] give them the right [to challenge] under trade agreements and treaties of the WTO “, has threatened the emissary u.s. prior to the start of discussions on the subject, this week, at the headquarters of the Organization of economic cooperation and development (OECD).

The response of the major stakeholders was not long in coming. First of France, who is just engaged formally in this way by presenting, last week, a project fee of 3 % on digital advertising, the sale of personal data and other revenues recorded on its territory by businesses in the digital sector whose worldwide sales exceed € 750 million. France “is a State free and sovereign, who decides of its taxation and who decides freely and in a sovereign,” said his Economy minister, Bruno Le Maire, saying he did not fear retaliatory measures from Washington.

The european authorities have also denounced the “aggressive attitude” of the United States in the folder. The european commissioner for economic Affairs, Pierre Moscovici, has said in turn that ” France and other countries are perfectly entitled to decide tax to national on the digital business “.

The GAFA (Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple), and other giants of the Internet are to blame for take advantage of the largely intangible of their business to report their profits and their losses where they want to artificially reduce their taxes payable.

Difficult search for consensus

At the heart of efforts to find an international solution to the problem and, more generally, to tax avoidance by multinationals and wealthy individuals, the OECD hopes an agreement by the middle of next year. The height of the support, in principle, from 126 countries, the project moves forward, however slowly and with difficulty. The French Bruno Le Maire, has admitted himself that he preferred a solution that would be based on ” a consensus at the OECD on the subject, and assured that France would withdraw its tax as soon as it will be able to replace it by a tax on international.

The search for a common solution is not more easy in Europe. Subject matter, to the rule of unanimity, the 28 Finance ministers of the countries of the european Union have had to admit, Tuesday, have been unable, despite months of efforts and negotiations to find a formula which would overcome the opposition of Ireland, Sweden, Denmark and Finland. The best they could do is leave the door open to a resumption of the discussions around the draft taxation european in the case where, by the end of 2020, it appears that the conclusion of an agreement on an international tax the OECD is taking more time than expected.

In the meantime, the United Kingdom, Spain, Austria and Italy have indicated their intention to do as the France and to adopt their own version of a “tax on digital services” as early as this year. Other countries have expressed the same desire elsewhere in the world, including India, Australia and New Zealand.

The United States say they support the principle of a minimum tax on all businesses, but have against a tax that would target specifically the giants of the digital, which are for the most part americans and chinese, while Europe had only a few of the key players in this sector.

“We understand that there are political pressures in the world to tax more heavily a variety of international companies and we agreed that it was appropriate,” said Tuesday, Chip Harter. “But we think that this should be done on a wider basis than the selection of a particular sector. “

With Agence France-Presse

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