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US, France reach agreement on digital taxes

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French President Emmanuel Macron said Monday G7 members had reached an agreement on the taxation of tech giants, a long-standing subject of friction between France and the US which has threatened to retaliate with tariffs on French wines.

Speaking alongside US President Donald Trump at a G7 summit in southwest France, Macron admitted that there had been “a lot of nervousness” about France’s new tax on tech behemoths such as Google and Facebook.

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But negotiations between France and the United States had produced “what I think is a very good deal,” he said.

Macron explained that France would scrap its own digital tax once a new international levy being discussed among 134 OECD countries is in place. France hopes it will be ready in 2020.

Asked whether he would now rescind his threat to slap punitive retaliatory tariffs on French wines, Trump, who had described the French tax as “very unfair”, was non-committal.

His wife Melania “loves the French wine”, he joked.

The US leader, who was elected on a protectionist platform, had earlier announced that Paris and Washington were “close” to a deal.

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“They want to make a deal and we’ll see if we can make a deal,” Trump said.

– Reimburse excess taxes –

The French parliament passed its new levy in July amid frustration at the slow pace of negotiations on a new global accord to ensure tech multinationals pay a larger share of taxes on their operations.

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Under EU law, American tax giants can declare their profits from across the bloc in a single jurisdiction — in most cases low-tax jurisdictions such as Ireland or the Netherlands.

The French tax, which targets local sales rather than profits, has drawn accusations of discrimination from the so-called GAFA companies (Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon).

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It is expected to add 400 million euros ($444 million) to France’s coffers this year, rising to 450 million in 2020.

Under the agreement struck in Biarritz, French tax authorities will look at how much companies paid in French “GAFA” taxes and how much they would have paid under the yet-to-be-decided international formula, French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire told AFP.

“Everything that is paid in excess compared to the international solution will be credited to the company,” he added.

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Britain has also announced plans for a tax on tech giants, accused of exploiting fiscal rules to sharply cut their tax bills despite soaring profits.

“Frankly, we must do something to tax fairly and properly the online businesses that have such colossal sales in our country,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said ahead of talks with Trump in Biarritz on Saturday.


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Trump’s use of ‘executive privilege’ to keep Bolton from testifying could blow up in his face: legal experts

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If all Democrats in the U.S. Senate voted in favor of featuring witnesses in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial and at least four Republicans joined them, former National Security Adviser John Bolton could be subpoenaed to testify — in which case, Team Trump might claim executive privilege in an effort to prevent that from happening. But legal experts Ryan Goodman and Andrew Weissmann, in a January 28 article for Just Security, offer some reasons why such an executive privilege assertion wouldn’t serve the Trump White House well.

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Alan Dershowitz in 2016: Corrupt Donald Trump will violate ‘international and domestic laws’

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Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, a member of President Donald Trump's impeachment legal team, said in 2016 that Trump was more corrupt than Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. He also predicted that Trump would continue to be corrupt, if elected.

This article was originally published at Salon

Dershowitz, who voted for Clinton, dismissed allegations of corruption Trump raised against the Clinton Foundation in a radio interview flagged by CNN's K-File.

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‘You’re lying again’: Twitter fires back at Lindsey Graham’s claim that ‘Biden’s behavior was harmful to the United States’

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In a series of tweets this Wednesday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) gave his opinion that additional testimony in the impeachment effort against President Trump is "unnecessary," regardless of the leaked revelations from an unpublished manuscript of John Bolton's upcoming book. According to Graham, "one could assume everything attributable to John Bolton is accurate and still the House case would fall well below the standards to remove a president from office."

Graham then turned the focus of his thread to Joe Biden, writing that "there is ample evidence for the President to be concerned about conflicts of interest on behalf of Hunter Biden and that Vice President Joe Biden’s failure to take appropriate action was unacceptable."

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