Tech giants slam French digital tax at hearing

U.S. tech giants and an array of trade groups slammed France over its new digital taxes law during a public hearing on Monday, arguing the legislation unfairly targets U.S. technology companies and could hobble their operations.

Representatives from Google, Facebook and Amazon testified before a group of government officials investigating the digital services tax, laying out their arguments to a largely sympathetic panel that referred to the French law as unprecedented.

The United States Trade Representative (USTR) launched a probe into France’s digital taxes last month, using the same aggressive process that previously resulted in the Trump administration’s implementation of significant tariffs on China.

The Trump administration has largely presented a united front with the tech companies over France’s digital services tax, which imposes a 3 percent tax on the annual revenues of mostly American companies.

The French tax targets firms with annual global revenue of more than $832 million, or 750 million euros, annually, thus sweeping up top American tech companies, which are some of the largest and most valuable in the world.

“Our members are highly concerned with the discriminatory nature of the French government’s DST specifically against successful American companies,” said Stephanie Holland, vice president of federal and global policy with CompTIA, a trade group representing the tech industry.

“Tax requirements will disproportionately harm some of the most successful global enterprises based in the U.S.,” she added.