USA to hold hearing on French digital tax investigation by August 19th

French digital service tax target US companies unfairly says administration

The French parliament approved a law on Thursday that would make France the first major economy to impose a tax on internet heavyweights.

France's Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire sent a clear message to the USA and the rest of the world on Thursday when the country passed a 3% tax on the digital revenues of big tech companies: "France decides its own tax rules".

"It's a taxation on revenues (and not on profits), encouraging companies to reduce their level of investments and innovation", he said.

France has led a push for internet companies with significant digital revenue in the European Union to pay more tax at source, but has made little headway as Germany is cool on the idea, while member states with low corporate tax rates such as Luxembourg and Ireland firmly oppose the proposal. The French government has indicated it will drop the measure once the OECD reaches agreement on worldwide plans for overhauling cross-border tax rules for the digital economy, although these are not expected until 2021.

The national proposals come after an EU-wide effort to pass a digital tax on corporations failed past year, thanks to resistance from countries like Ireland and the Netherlands.

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"Between allies, we can, and we should, solve our differences without using threats", Bruno Le Maire said just ahead of the final vote in the French Senate. When in place, the proposed United Kingdom digital services tax will target "large digital businesses" that generate more than £500m in global revenue and more than £25m in United Kingdom revenue, upon which it will impose a 2% levy.

Industry group techUK warned of similar consequences from the U.K.'s proposed 2% tax on digital services in a statement Thursday. The levy will apply to companies with more than 500 million pounds ($626 million) in revenue, if more than 25 million pounds comes from British users. Robert Lighthizer, the US trade representative, said: "The US is very concerned that the digital services tax which is expected to pass the French Senate tomorrow unfairly targets American companies". In the first quarter of this year, for instance, Amazon's share of French e-commerce went down slightly, but the American retail behemoth still controlled no less than half of France's online trade.

France has hit back at the United States government amid a spiralling row on taxes. "France is a sovereign nation".

Furthermore, Paris has pledged to drop its tax as soon as an global agreement is reached at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development to overhaul decades-old cross-border tax rules for the digital era.

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