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U.S. Notifies World Trade Organization Against “Discriminatory” New Taxes on Digital Giants

The OECD is spearheading talks aimed at forging a new global agreement on taxing technology and digital giants who often declare their income in low-tax nations, depriving other countries of billions in revenue.

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World Trade Organization (WTO) headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, July 26, 2018. VOA

The U.S. is weighing a complaint at the World Trade Organization against “discriminatory” new taxes on digital giants such as a Facebook and Google which are being planned by France and other EU nations, a top US trade official said Tuesday.

“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.

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But that overhaul is expected until next year at the earliest, prompting France, Britain, Spain, Austria and Italy to move ahead with their own versions of a so-called “digital services tax” as soon as this year.
Pixabay

Speaking ahead of two days of talks at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Harter added that “various parts of our government are studying whether that discriminatory impact would give us rights under trade agreements and WTO treaties.”

The OECD is spearheading talks aimed at forging a new global agreement on taxing technology and digital giants who often declare their income in low-tax nations, depriving other countries of billions in revenue.

But that overhaul is expected until next year at the earliest, prompting France, Britain, Spain, Austria and Italy to move ahead with their own versions of a so-called “digital services tax” as soon as this year.

social media
The OECD is spearheading talks aimed at forging a new global agreement on taxing technology and digital giants who often declare their income in low-tax nations, depriving other countries of billions in revenue. Pixabay

Last week France unveiled draft legislation that would set a 3.0-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.

It would be applied retroactively from January 1, 2019, while the measures in the UK and other European countries might not come into effect until next year.

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“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.

“But we think it should be done on a broader basis than just selecting a particular industry,” he said. (VOA)

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Also taking part in the meeting were representatives of WhatsApp, Google and ShareChat

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The Election Commission is in talks with the representatives of Internet companies, including social media platforms, on the use of social media for campaigning in the Lok Sabha polls while the Model Code of Conduct is in force. Pixabay

Social media platforms, including Facebook and Twitter, agreed on Wednesday to process any request from the Election Commission to take down content within three hours during the 48-hour period before voting days.

The agreement was arrived at a meeting between the Election Commission and Internet companies as part of a conduct code for the staggered Lok Sabha elections starting on April 11 and also for the future, informed sources said.

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Also taking part in the meeting were representatives of WhatsApp, Google and ShareChat. (IANS)