EU states divided over digital tax, fear U.S. retaliation
EU states divided over digital tax, fear U.S. retaliation
Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said the proposed new digigal tax would set a negative precedent for Europe
09 November, 2018, 00:51
Irish finance minister Paschal Donohoe explained said his country's opposition to a digital services tax stems, in part, because of the bad precedent it would set for exporting and service economies.
The digital tax, sometimes called the "Google tax" for the impact it would have on Google and cohorts Apple, Facebook and Amazon, is deeply controversial.
On Monday, Le Maire's German counterpart Olaf Scholz backed a European tax, but only if global moves in the the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) had failed by 2020.
The EU's efforts are being spearheaded by the French finance minister, Bruno Le Maire.
Governments also disagree on whether the tax should have a fixed expiration date or a review clause linked to global developments, assuming that it's implemented as an interim measure. It suggested on Tuesday that it could support allowing more time to implement a new tax system, so that the OECD can finish its analysis.
"There is no inconsistency with Mr. Scholz". "It is this political decision that counts in our eyes, even if we are open to technical improvement of the commission's proposal", he said.
France, backed by EU-presidency holder Austria, wants a law proposal by the end of the year leaving little time to get opponents on side as European tax rules require unanimous backing by all EU members.
The tax has been championed by French president Emmanuel Macron as a way of appeasing voters' indignation at the low tax bills of large United States internet companies such as Amazon and Google, ahead of European Parliament elections next year.
But Ireland, which hosts the European headquarters of several U.S. tech giants, leads a small group of otherwise mostly Nordic countries that argue the tax will also punish European companies and stoke Washington's anger.
Similarly, Sweden's finance minister, Eva Magdalena Andersson, said that issues of income allocation should be left to global agreement.
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Arriving at the meeting Tuesday in Brussels, the Danish minister of Finance, Kristian Jensen, said of his side: "Everything is possible in politics but I think that it is very hard to reach an agreement on the taxation of the digital economy".
The EU proposal is also meant to stop other countries going it alone with their own digital tax and creating a patchwork of schemes across the continent.
The Council of ministers said in a statement that while "progress has been achieved on a number of issues such as definitions, tax collection, and administrative cooperation, there are still differences between member states on several issues, including the precise scope of services which would be subject to the future tax".
Initiatives to tax the giants of the digital have already been taken in the United Kingdom, India and Singapore, and plans are now in progress in Spain and Italy.
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