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France hails US policy shift on global digital tax

Published: Updated:

France on Wednesday hailed a “real change” in Washington after US president-elect Joe Biden’s administration expressed support for a proposed global tax on digital giants that Donald Trump had bitterly opposed.

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Biden’s pick for Treasury secretary Janet Yellen on Tuesday backed a push to get the likes of Facebook and Google to pay a larger share of their revenues in taxes in the countries where they operate.

During a confirmation hearing in the Senate Yellen said: “It would enable us to collect a fair share from corporations, while maintaining the competitiveness of our businesses and diminish the incentives that American companies now have to offshore activities.”

Read more: EU hails ‘new dawn’ amid Biden swear-in, wants to toughen tech rules

Her remarks marked a sharp contrast with the position of the outgoing Trump administration, which had threatened France with punitive trade tariffs for forging ahead with its own digital tax pending a new global levy.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire hailed Yellen’s comments as marking “a real change in position on the taxation of digital giants.”

“It’s good news, it’s a first step,” he told the BFM TV channel.

He also expressed confidence that, with new-found US support, the negotiations conducted by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development would soon yield a new global digital tax.

Tech giants are accused of minimizing their tax bills by declaring most of their profits in low-tax administrations.

In November, some 75 major tech players, including Google and Facebook, backed a French initiative committing them to making a “fair tax contribution” in countries where they operate.