Trump orders investigation into France’s planned tax on tech giants
US President Donald Trump has ordered an investigation into France's planned tax on internet services that will hit American tech giants especially hard, officials said Wednesday.
Published: 11 July 2019 08:31 CEST
The investigation into unfair trade practices could pave the way for Washington to impose punitive tariffs, something Trump has done repeatedly since taking office.
“The United States is very concerned that the digital services tax which is expected to pass the French Senate tomorrow unfairly targets American companies,” US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in a statement.
The proposed three percent tax on total annual revenues of companies providing services to French consumers only applies to the largest tech companies, “where US firms are global leaders,” the trade representative's office said.
The so-called Section 301 investigation is the primary tool the Trump administration has used in the trade war with China to justify tariffs against what the United States says are unfair trade practices.
USTR will hold hearings to allow for public comment on the issue over several weeks before issuing a final report with a recommendation on what actions to take.
Despite the objections to the French tax proposal however, the statement said the United States will continue to work with other advanced economies to address the conundrum of how to tax tech companies.
The Group of 20 has tasked the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development with finding a fix in the international tax system that has allowed some internet heavyweights to take advantage of low-tax jurisdictions in places like Ireland and pay next to nothing in other countries where they make huge profits.
The Computer & Communications Industry Association on Wednesday applauded the US Trade Representative's move, saying the tax would retroactively require US internet giants operating in France to turn over a percentage of their revenues from the beginning of this year and violates international trade commitments.
“This is a critical step toward preventing protectionist taxes on global trade,” CCIA official Matt Schruers said in a statement.
“CCIA encourages France to lead the effort toward more ambitious global tax reform, instead of the discriminatory national tax measures that harm global trade.”
Declaring and paying taxes in France can be a complicated affair, especially for first-timers, and the intricate French vocabulary does not exactly simplify the process. This language guide might help.
Published: 14 April 2021 14:11 CEST
Illustration photo: Miguel MEDINA / AFP
If you are encountering the French tax system for the first time, just looking at the various forms can make you dizzy, as the vocab isn’t exactly everyday-French.
Even French natives sometimes struggle to understand what they are being asked about, which is why the government has created a tax lexicon (available HERE).
It is 23 pages long, but we have picked out the key terms and added a few that might be unfamiliar to foreigners.
If, however, you are looking for a specific term that doesn’t appear in the list below, we recommend you check the official guide.
We have also explained in detail how to fill out the annual tax declaration HERE.
Nom – as with all French forms, nom refers specifically to your surname or family name. Your prénom (first name) comes later. Tax forms generally ask for your nom de naissance which is the family name you were born with (even if you have changed your name through marriage) and will then ask for nom auquel vos courriers seront adressés or name for correspondence to be addressed to.
Avis d’imposition – tax notice. This is for your annual tax return. If your main residence is in France you must fill in a tax return – even if all your income comes from another country. France has double taxation agreements with most countries, so if you have already paid tax on, say, income from a rental property in the UK you will not be liable for more tax in France on the same income. But you must still tell the French tax man about it.
Déclarant – refers to the person declaring the taxes. The verb is déclarer and un déclarant is la personne qui déclare – the person who declares. The form has spaces for two déclarants because married couples and those in a civil partnership file a joint return. If you are declaring as a single person just ignore the column for déclarant 2.
Foyer fiscal – tax household. France bases taxes on the household and you will be asked about it in detail when filling out your declaration. Couples who are married or in a civil union (Pacs) should make one joint declaration rather than two. If you got married halfway through the year you can now declare one common declaration for the whole year.
Etat civil – civil status. Choose between célibataire (single), marié (married) or Pacsé (in a civil partnership).
Parent isolé – single parent. This only goes for those who were not living with a partner on December 31st the year before declaring the taxes. If you got divorced, separated or lost your partner after that date, you have to wait until next year to declare it. In addition to parents, this category also includes singles who are taking care of a disabled person.
Enfant mineur – child under 18 years old.
Enfant majeur – a child over 18 years old. Parents in France may attach their adult child to their tax declaration until the age of 25, under certain conditions.
Personne à charge – means ‘person to take care of’, and means that you have a person in your household that you are financially responsible for, usually referred to in English as a dependant.
Concubinage – a couple who live together but aren’t married or in a civil partnership. If that’s you, you’re not allowed to tick the box of parent isolé if you have children.
Numéro de sécurité sociale – social security number. If you’re registered with French social security this number (15 figures) appears on your Carte Vitale health card and if you’re an employee it should appear on your payslips. If you don’t have a social security number in France, tick the box “pas de numéro de sécurité sociale“.
Prélèvement à la source – This sounds confusing, because it’s sometimes translated as “withholding tax”. However it just means the tax that is automatically deducted from your salary each month if you are an employee. Usually referred to in English as ‘taxation at source’ or PAYE (pay as you earn), it’s a relatively recent innovation in France.
Revenus des indépendants – income for the self-employed. Whereas employees get their taxes deducted automatically from their payslip, self-employed people, contractors or freelancers have to declare all their income and social benefits, if any, on their tax declarations.
Micro-entrepreneur – this is a specific professional status that self-employed people may opt for if their income is below a certain threshold. It used to be known an auto-entrepreneur.
Comptes à l’étranger – foreign bank accounts. If you have a bank account in a country other than France, you have to declare that to the tax man, or risk a €1,500 fine (€10,000 for those with an account in a country that doesn’t have a tax evasion deal with France) per account. New international banking rules aimed at money-launderers mean it is increasingly easy for countries to find out this information.
Contribution à l’audiovisuel public – this means ‘contribution to the public audiovisual’. It is the French equivalent of a TV licence and is paid by almost everyone. You pay it if you have a TV in your property, even if you don’t watch French TV.
Abattement – rebates. France has a long list of specific tax rebates, some of which are directed professional groups while others go to parents for costs like childcare and domestic help. Find out more about the deductions available here.
Paiement en ligne – online payment.
Coordonnées bancaires – bank information (such as the account holder’s name, account number, BIC and IBAN) you are given the option to add this to your tax declaration so that payments can be taken – or refunds credited – directly.
Taxe d’habitation – the housing tax paid by those living in a property, not the owner, is in the process of being phased out and most people won’t have to pay it this year. However second home owners are excluded from the phasing out and still have to pay it, bar a few exceptions. This is separate to the annual tax declaration and bills are sent out in the autumn.
Taxe foncière – this is the tax for property owners, second home owners pay both this and the taxe d’habitation. The tax on property owners has risen in many areas over the past couple of years.
Revenus fonciers – this means ‘property income’, but it only refers to income coming from properties that are rented out unfurnished. If you rent out a furnished property that also has to be declared, but under the box called bénéfices industriels et commerciaux (BIC).
Micro foncier – the box to tick if the revenus fonciers are up to €15,000 annually, which allows for a 30 percent tax rebate on the gross income.
Régime réel – the box to tick if the revenus fonciers exceed €15,000 annually, in which case there won’t be any tax rebate available.
Pensions – pensions. You have to declare any pensions you receive, whichever type it may be, even if they are paid by another country. There are several other similar terms that belong to the same category as pensions.
Allocations – economic help schemes.
Indemnités – allowances.
Retraites – pensions.
Rentes – annuities.
Prime – bonus.
Revenu brut – gross revenue.
Revenut net – net revenue.
Demande gracieuse – means ‘gracious request’ and is what you may do if, upon receiving your tax notice, you realise you could have paid less tax if you had ticked a different box somewhere or given additional information. The term ‘gracious’ is there to signify that the tax man can choose to accommodate your request if he so pleases, but there’s no rule saying he has to. As a general policy we would recommend always being very polite to tax authorities.
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