EU finance ministers warn US administration over tax bill

EU Headquarters. Photo file: Online



EU finance ministers have issued a warning to Donald Trump’s administration over its planned tax reform, saying it would “be at odds” with free-trade international rules because it risked being discriminatory towards foreign companies.

In a letter to the US treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, the finance ministers of France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK said some of the bill’s measures would “contravene” the rules of the World Trade Organisation’s principles as well as double taxation resolutions.

Some measures “may risk having a major distortive impact on international trade,” the letter read.

Notably, the ministers say that the 20 per cent “excise tax” on transactions, including a US company’s imports of products from its own foreign factory, would impact “genuine commercial arrangements” and could “discriminate in a manner that would be at odds with international rules” of the World Trade Organisation, the ministers wrote.

This tax would also be “inconsistent with existing double taxation agreements” because it would impose a tax on the profits of a non-US resident company that does not have a US permanent establishment, they added.

Another provision in the bill, intended to limit the US tax base erosion, would hurt international banks and insurers doing business in the US because cross-border intra-group financial transactions would be treated as non-deductible and subject to a 10 per cent tax, the EU ministers wrote.

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