Rather Than Retaliate, Biden Should Work With France Over Its ‘Tech Tax’

Rather Than Retaliate, Biden Should Work With France Over Its ‘Tech Tax’
French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire attends a press conference in Paris, June 10, 2020 (AFP Pool photo by Ludovic Marin via AP).

President-elect Joe Biden is about to inherit a trade dispute that gives him an early chance to show whether he is prepared to break not just with Donald Trump, but with the corporate-friendly trade policies championed by his Democratic predecessors. The outgoing administration is set to impose new tariffs over France’s recent decision to tax the revenue of U.S. digital giants like Facebook, Apple and Google, charging that the move discriminates against U.S. companies.

For Trump, the fight is a simple matter of protecting the profits of rich American companies against what he sees as a European cash grab. Barack Obama and Bill Clinton both would likely have come down on the same side; each president had a long history of championing the interests of Silicon Valley. Biden should go in a different direction. He should drop the tariffs and work with France and other allies to find cooperative solutions to the huge and growing problem of ensuring that modern corporations start paying their fair share of taxes to sustain the societies that allow them to earn such enormous profits.

The issue is both straightforward and immensely complicated. The digital economy has outrun the ability of governments to tax it successfully. With digital companies reaping a windfall from the coronavirus pandemic, they are padding their profits and further leaping ahead of traditional brick-and-mortar firms. Finding new ways to tax those companies is an urgent global priority.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.