France is to join a growing list of member states setting out their own plans for a digital tax, after the country’s Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire announced on Monday (17 December) that new French laws for the taxation of digital giants would come into effect from 1 January 2019. Speaking at a press conference in Paris on Monday, Le Maire told reporters that the French measures would go further than plans currently being debated over in the EU Council of Ministers, by extending to “advertising revenues, platforms and the resale of personal data”. Le Maire is striking while the iron is hot. While the tax legislation at an EU level requires unanimous agreement in the Council, recent discussions between European finance ministers have failed to reach a consensus on the plans.
France is still hoping an EU-wide agreement can be reached by March on taxing technology companies. However, member states are divided on how to tackle the new taxes, with some including Ireland arguing any new levies could be met with reprisals from the US. The UK has considered imposing a 2pc tax on revenue generated from adverts targeted at UK users, as well as search engine advertising and revenues online marketplaces generate from transactions with UK users. The UK “digital sales tax” is not expected to come into force until 2020. Chancellor Philip has said the tax would raise up to £400m for the Treasury.
Countries including the UK and France have accused firms of routing some profits through low-tax EU member states such as Ireland and Luxembourg. Big US tech companies have argued they are complying with national and international tax laws. However, the Commission said it wanted to tax companies according to where their digital users are based. In the EU, the UK, France, Germany and Spain are all pushing for new taxes on tech companies, as are nations such as Japan and South Korea. Nevertheless, the US Treasury has warned against measures against US tech firms, which it sees as punitive.
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