G20 finance chiefs agree on urgent need for online sales tax system


Sun, 09 Jun 2019 - 07:50 GMT

Combined image for Facebook and Google - CC via Flickr/ SEO

Combined image for Facebook and Google - CC via Flickr/ SEO

TOKYO, June 8 (MENA) - Top G20 finance officials agreed Saturday there was an urgent need to find a global system to tax internet giants like Google and Facebook but clashed on the best way to do it, Japan Today reported.

The G20 has tasked the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development to fix the system that has seen some internet heavyweights take advantage of low-tax jurisdictions in places like Ireland and pay next to nothing in other countries where they make huge profits.

OECD chief Angel Gurria is presenting G20 finance ministers and central bank chiefs meeting over the weekend in Fukuoka with a "road map", already signed off by 129 countries, in a bid to clinch a long-term solution by 2020.

"We have to hurry up," said French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire during a panel discussion of top policymakers before the G20 meeting officially opened.

Le Maire called for a more ambitious time frame to forge a global consensus, saying: "The right schedule is to find a compromise by the end of this year."

Ministers are weighing the possibility of a new tax policy based on the amount of business a company does in a country, not where it is headquartered.

But there are rival proposals in the mix, including a wider US-led approach that could affect European and Asian multinationals in other sectors than technology.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin took a blunt view in assessing the approach of Britain and France, who have already introduced their own taxes on digital players, given a lack of global consensus.

"I would say the US has significant concerns with the two current taxes that are being proposed by France and the UK but let me give them some good credit for proposing them in the sense (that) they have created an urgency to deal with this issue," said Mnuchin.

"Although I don't like them, I do appreciate the impetus for these issues," added the top US finance official.

While there were gaps on the exact make-up of the reform, the policymakers agreed there needed to be a global approach to taxing the big internet firms.

The other topic dominating the G20 finance ministers' meeting is the impact of spiraling global trade conflicts on an increasingly fragile economic outlook.

International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde, who is also attending the meeting, has warned that tariffs and trade friction are "self-inflicted" wounds that will harm the global economy at a "delicate juncture."



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