Sunak ‘confident’ of reaching tech tax agreement

Rishi Sunak

Chancellor Rishi Sunak says he is “confident” of reaching a global agreement on digital taxation ahead of a meeting of world finance leaders.

Tax on big tech and multi-nationals has been a source of friction between the US and countries including the UK.

The US announced sanctions this week but immediately suspended them to give more time for talks.

Finance minsters will also discuss climate change at the two day meeting which starts in London on Friday.

Ahead of the G7 talks, starting in London on Friday, finance ministers from Germany, France, Italy and Spain co-signed a letter urging an agreement on an international tax system “fit for the 21st Century”.

In a letter to The Guardian,they wrote: “Introducing this fairer and more efficient international tax system was already a priority before the current economic crisis, and it will be all the more necessary coming out of it.”

Tax tech

On Wednesday, the US announced it would impose tariffs on about $2bn (£1.4bn) of imports, including certain goods from the UK, in retaliation for taxes on big US tech firms.

However, it suspended them for 180 days to allow further talks to take place in London and at a meeting of G20 nations in July.

Mr Sunak is expected to push for an agreement on taxes and call for all global businesses to commit to climate reporting.

Speaking ahead of the G7 meeting, Mr Sunak said: “Securing a global agreement on digital taxation has also been a key priority this year – we want companies to pay the right amount of tax in the right place, and I hope we can reach a fair deal with our partners.

“I’m determined we work together and unite to tackle the world’s most pressing economic challenges – and I’m hugely optimistic that we will deliver some concrete outcomes this weekend.”

The ministers will be looking at how to stop the likes of Google, Amazon, Starbucks and Apple paying low or no taxes in countries where they generate revenues.

The meeting is being held as it emerged that an Irish subsidiary of US technology giant Microsoft paid no corporation tax on $315bn in profit it made last year, according to The Guardian.

Microsoft Round Island One is resident in Bermuda and the profit it generated last year is equal to nearly three-quarters of Ireland’s GDP.

All G7 countries, bar the UK, have supported a proposal from the US for a global minimum corporate tax rate of 15% that could raise $50-$80bn for governments around the world.

‘Deal within reach’

Germany, France, Italy and Spain said the commitment to a minimum 15% tax rate is “a promising start” but said G7 nations much reach at “a common position on a new international tax system” in London before more nations meet next month.

They wrote: “We are confident it will create the momentum needed to reach a global agreement at the G20 in Venice in July. It is within our reach. Let’s make sure it happens. We owe it to our citizens.”

The UK is holding out for reassurances about the Digital Services Tax, which levies 2% on revenues derived in the UK from online marketplaces, search engines and social media platforms.

It is open to the idea of a global corporate minimum tax rate and is said to be prepared to let the Digital Services Tax go if it obtains assurances that big tech will not simply be let off the hook.

The Biden administration initially pushed for a global minimum corporate tax rate of 21% but has now retreated to 15%. However, officials have said that’s regarded very much as a “floor”.

Finance ministers from the US, Japan, France, Canada, Germany and Italy will be attending the meeting at Lancaster House, along with representatives from the European Commission, the Eurogroup, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.