Foreign Policy Trade

After Trump Attacks France, Johnson Says Britain Will Tax Digital Services

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

The Trump regime has initiated a process to impose tariffs on over $2 billion in French goods in response to France's new tax on digital services offered by the likes of Google, Facebook, and Amazon, but aren't other countries proposing or passing the same thing?

Trump can get away with casually threatening France, but the growing list of countries passing a digital services tax could soon include the United Kingdom.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his conservatives are even campaigning on passing a digital services tax in the next government.

“On the digital services tax, I do think we need to look at the operation of the big digital companies and the huge revenues they have in this country and the amount of tax that they pay,” Johnson said on Tuesday, according to a BBC report.

“We need to sort that out. They need to make a fairer contribution.

Johnson’s Conservative Party has committed to implementing a digital service tax on the revenue of companies such as Google, Facebook and Amazon in its blueprint for government if it wins this month’s national election.

The Trump regime has already imposed tariffs on goods from the United Kingdom when it imposed tariffs authorized by the World Trade Organization so punishing Britain is evidently something Trump is willing to do, but weren't we suppose to be signing a trade deal with Britain under Trump and Boris Johnson?

It was not that long ago when Trump and Boris Johnson both floated the idea that trade with Europe could be replaced by trade with the United States after the Brexit, but I think it's clear that will never happen.

Even if Britain eventually departs the European Union in a "Brexit" at some point after the new year, Trump will have already imposed tariffs on billions in British goods with more tariffs in the process of being approved.

Trump says he'd like to work out a "mutually beneficial tax" with other countries passing digital services taxes, but that's obviously preposterous. He's asking other countries to share their own tax revenue with the United States.

Emmanuel Macron should ask Trump to share revenue from his tariffs with Europe and see how that goes because it's functionally the same.

I don't know if ironic is the right word, but while Trump asks other countries to share their revenue with us, Republicans in Congress would never pass a similar digital services tax to collect revenue and Trump himself would probably never sign one.

  • muselet

    A digital services tax makes sense, given how much commerce has migrated online. Sure, it would be better if the world agreed on a universal rate, but that seems unlikely.

    Amusingly, the Tories’ digital services tax—as proposed, anyway—would apply to a larger number of companies than France’s. Logically (yes, I know, “logically” doesn’t belong in the same thought as Donald Trump), Trump should be at least as enraged by the British tax as he is by the French one.

    After Boris Johnson’s gossiping about Trump at the NATO meeting, I think he’s about to face the red-faced, shouty wrath of Trump, just like Emmanuel Macron. Couldn’t happen to a more deserving person.

    –alopecia