France Says U.S. Would Consider Multinational Plan for Digital Taxes

President Emmanuel Macron of France, Prime Minister Édouard Philippe, left, and Bruno Le Maire, the finance minister, meet with bankers at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Dec. 11, 2018. cA day after Macron unveiled proposals aimed at addressing protests by France’s middle class and working poor, many were already expressing doubt about how helpful they would be. (Thibault Camus/Pool via The New York Times) -- FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY --

Keith Bradsher

c.2020 The New York Times Company

DAVOS, Switzerland — France’s finance minister, Bruno Le Maire, said the United States and France had reached a broad framework for using a plan that was being developed by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development to set digital taxes, but further talks were needed and would take place Thursday.

The announcement came a day after the two countries appeared to strike a temporary truce in a trans-Atlantic spat, after President Emmanuel Macron agreed to suspend a French tax on U.S. technology giants in exchange for a postponement of threatened retaliatory tariffs on French goods by the Trump administration.

Any tax framework developed by the OECD must meet certain standards, Le Maire said. “We want the basis to be solid, credible and fair,” he said, later adding that, “There is still some work to be done.”

Further talks were also needed among European nations, he said. If a deal could be reached at the OECD, he said, that would be preferable either to European countries acting individually or as a group to impose taxes.

“Europe stands united vis-à-vis the U.S.” on the preference for a broadly agreed tax framework instead of each country imposing its own taxes, Le Maire said.

No comment was immediately available from U.S. officials. The Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, is expected to hold a briefing in Davos on Thursday.

There have been detailed technical talks with Mnuchin and Le Maire’s staff for two weeks, as well as a Sunday night phone call between President Donald Trump and Macron, the finance minister said.

Le Maire described the call between Trump and Macron as “decisive,” having reached an agreement that gave more breathing room to work out further details.

Le Maire made clear that the issue of digital taxation was far from resolved.

“We need to address fiscal evasion,” he said. “We have to address the fact that the biggest companies in the world are making huge profits in Europe and everywhere in the world without paying the due level of taxation because they do not have any physical presence — we have to address that question.”