US tech companies knock France’s digital tax plans

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US technology companies attacked France’s plans for a digital tax as unilateral and discriminatory, calling for Paris to withdraw the measures, but urged the Trump administration not to retaliate with the use of tariffs.

At a hearing called by the office of the US trade representative after the launch of a probe into France’s digital tax, Jennifer McCloskey, vice-president for policy at the Information Technology Industry Council, the biggest lobby group for Silicon Valley, said the case was about “preventing widescale application of unilateral excise taxes” and France and other countries considering digital taxes through the OECD’s multilateral negotiations.

But she added that the US should also lead on a “consensus-based approach” to trade and tax issues related to the digital economy.

“We support the US government’s efforts to investigate these complex trade issues but urge it to pursue the 301 investigation in a spirit of international co-operation and without using tariffs as a remedy,” she said.

Donald Trump has threatened to put tariffs on French products, including wine, in response to the digital tax, and US officials are also considering other punitive measures, including a doubling of taxes on French individuals and businesses in the US.

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