资料照 WTO日内瓦总部
资料照 WTO日内瓦总部

PARIS - 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.

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.

Activists from anti-globalization organisation Attac stage a protest at Google's Paris headquarters to criticize the company's tax evasion policies, in Paris, Jan. 31, 2019.
Activists in Paris Protest Against Google's Tax Setup
Activists from an anti-globalization group have staged a protest at Google's Paris headquarters to criticize the company for paying little tax.   Attac members gathered at Google's offices Thursday and set up a pulley to pass bags of fake money between the firm's premises and a public finance center across the street.   According to Attac, Google's French subsidiary reported revenue of 325 million euros ($371 million) in 2017 and paid 14 million euros ($16 million) in income tax.

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.

FILE - Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before a House Energy and Commerce hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington about the use of Facebook data to target American voters in the 2016 election and data privacy, April 11, 2018.
Lawmakers Criticize Facebook's Zuckerberg for UK Parliament No-Show
Facebook came under fire on Tuesday from lawmakers from several countries who accused the firm of undermining democratic institutions and lambasted chief executive Mark Zuckerberg for not answering questions on the matter.Facebook is being investigated by lawmakers in Britain after consultancy Cambridge Analytica, which worked on Donald Trump's presidential campaign, obtained the personal data of 87 million Facebook users from a researcher, drawing attention to the use of data analytics in politics. …


"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.