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U.S. to probe French plan to tax tech companies: source

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FILE PHOTO: The logos of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google in a combination photo from Reuters files./File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump will order an investigation into France’s planned tax on technology companies that could potentially lead to the United States imposing new tariffs or other trade restrictions, a source briefed on the matter said Wednesday.

The announcement, which is set for around 5 p.m. (2100 GMT) Wednesday in Washington, will give U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer up to a year to investigate if France’s digital-tax plan would hurt U.S. technology companies, the source said.

The “Section 301” investigation will determine if the levy poses an unfair trade practice. Prior investigations have covered Chinese trade practices and European Union subsidies on large commercial aircraft.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said in March that a 3% tax on the French revenue of large internet companies could yield 500 million euros ($563 million) per year.

Le Maire said the tax would target some 30 companies, mostly American but also Chinese, German, Spanish and British, as well as one French firm and several firms with French origins that have been bought by foreign companies.

The tax would affect companies with at least 750 million euros in annual revenues and apply to revenue from digital business including online advertising. Companies such as Alphabet Inc’s Google, Apple Inc, Facebook Inc and Amazon.com Inc would likely be subject to the tax.

Bloomberg Tax reported bit.ly/2JxZxBY the investigation earlier, citing two people familiar with the matter.

Reporting by David Shepardson in Washington; Additional reporting by Sathvik N in Bengaluru; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Lisa Shumaker

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via Reuters