经济学人官方译文 | 国际税务你一拳我一脚:纷争将至

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International tax
国际税务
Trading blows
你一拳我一脚
France has borrowed a tactic from America’s president. Expect fireworks
法国借用了美国总统的一项策略。纷争将至

​“DON’T TAX you, don’t tax me, tax that fellow behind the tree.” Historically, this rhyme has poked fun at the tax-shy American public. Today it reflects complaints against the French government, which on July 25th introduced a tax on digital services. American companies such as Amazon, Facebook and Google are protesting that they are being treated like the fellow behind the tree. President Donald Trump is itching to hit back. Unilateralism is a language he can understand.
“别收你的税,别收我的税,去收树后那人的税。”这句朗朗上口的话历来都是用来取笑不爱交税的美国大众的。如今它表达出对法国政府的不满,因为法国政府在7月25日开始征收一项数字服务税。亚马逊、Facebook和谷歌等美国企业抗议它们被当成了“树后的人”。特朗普跃跃欲试,准备回击。单边主义是他拿手的事。

At the heart of the dispute lies a mismatch between where companies make their profits and where those profits are booked for tax purposes. Governments wail that as data and ideas can zip across borders, taxable profits can slip between their tax-collectors’ fingers. The solution requires international co-ordination, to avoid everyone trying to tax the same stuff at once. But negotiations overseen by the OECD, a club of mostly rich countries, are taking too long for the French.
争议的核心是企业的盈利产生地和利润登记缴税地不匹配。各国政府担心,由于数据和创意可以跨越边界,应税利润可能会从它们的税务机构指间溜走。要解决这一问题需要国际协作,才能避免各国对同一笔盈利重复征税。但以富裕国家为主要成员的经合组织(OECD)管理的谈判对法国人来说太慢了。

Hence their levy of 3% on the revenues generated from French users of online platforms and digital advertising. The tax is blunt, but that is part of the point. It is meant as an interim measure, to be ditched once an international agreement is reached. It could even make a deal more likely. Affected companies may prefer that to unilateral taxes, and lobby for it.
因此,法国政府开始就在线平台和数字广告从法国用户身上获得的收入征收3%的税。这项税来得很生硬,但要的就是这效果。它原本就是个临时措施,一旦达成国际协议就会废止。它甚至可能会让谈判更有可能达成协议。比起单边的数字服务税,受影响的企业可能更愿意接受谈判协议,并为此展开游说。

Not surprisingly, the Trump administration has taken umbrage. It has begun an investigation into the French tax under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 (the same law by which it justifies tariffs on China). On August 19th eight officials heard the companies’ formal complaints. “We cannot absorb this expense,” claimed Amazon’s representative.
不出所料,特朗普政府很是光火。它已开始根据1974年《贸易法》第301条对法国的数字税展开调查(对中国征收关税也是根据这一条款)。8月19日,八位官员听取了几大公司的正式投诉。“我们无法承担这笔开支。”亚马逊的代表称。

No one likes new taxes, of course. But the companies do have a point. International trade rules are supposed to stop governments treating foreign companies differently from their own. And the French seem to have singled out America’s big technology firms. The tax will only hit companies with at least €750m ($830m) in global revenue from the relevant digital services and at least €25m derived from French users. Those thresholds conveniently exclude most French companies. Further clues lie in the French nickname for the levy, “the GAFA tax”—a reference to Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon.
当然没人喜欢新增税项。但这些企业的抱怨确实有其道理。国际贸易规则应该阻止政府差别对待外国企业和本国企业。而法国政府似乎是专门挑出了美国的科技巨头。这项税收针对的是在相关数字服务收入上至少有7.5亿欧元(8.3亿美元)的全球收入、并且来自法国用户的收入至少为2500万欧元的企业。这些门槛恰巧将大多数法国企业排除在外。从法国人给这项税收起取的别名“GAFA税”(谷歌、苹果、Facebook和亚马逊的首字母缩写)上也能看出端倪。

The French appear to have defined the taxed services selectively too. Subscription-based digital services are spared, along with crowdfunding websites and digital payment services. More broadly, Hosuk Lee Makiyama of the European Centre for International Political Economy, a think-tank in Brussels, notes the inconsistency of the French position. France is keen to grab a slice of America’s digitally derived corporate profits, but is loth to agree to new rules that would allow the Chinese tax authorities to share in the spoils from French-owned luxury brands.
法国政府似乎也有选择地界定了可征税服务。基于订阅的数字服务以及众筹网站、数字支付服务被免于征税。布鲁塞尔智库欧洲国际政治经济中心(European Centre for International Political Economy)的霍素克·李-牧山浩石(Hosuk Lee Makiyama)指出了法国立场更广泛的“双标”之处。法国渴望从美国源自数字经济的企业利润中切一块蛋糕,却不愿意接受新规则,让中国税务部门从法国奢侈品牌的利润中分一杯羹。

The administration seems almost certain to end up finding fault with the French. America could then complain to the World Trade Organisation. But Mr Trump is more likely to fight unilateralism with unilateralism, by raising taxes on French individuals or firms, or by imposing tariffs. The president appears particularly keen to raise duties on French wine.
美国政府最终几乎一定会找法国政府的碴。然后美国人就可以向世贸组织投诉了。但特朗普更有可能用单边主义手段来对抗单边主义,比如增加对法国个人或企业的税率或开征关税等。他似乎特别热衷于提高法国葡萄酒的关税。

If this happens, free-traders will surely grumble that Mr Trump has again chosen commercial conflict over co-operation. But the irony is that behind closed doors, his officials had been acting constructively in the multilateral talks at the OECD. Whereas Barack Obama’s administration had resisted further reforms, particularly those that could affect America’s technology companies, Steven Mnuchin, Mr Trump’s treasury secretary, was much more open to them.
果真如此的话,自由贸易主义者肯定会抱怨特朗普在商业冲突和合作之间再次选择了前者。但具讽刺意味的是,关起门来,特朗普的官员在经合组织的多边会谈中一直都表现得富有建设性。虽然奥巴马政府拒绝进一步改革,特别是那些可能影响到美国科技企业的改革,但特朗普的财政部长史蒂芬·努钦(Steven Mnuchin)表现出了更开放的姿态。

It may seem that the French are giving Mr Trump a taste of his own medicine—using unilateral action to put pressure on a negotiating partner. But they may have made tricky discussions more difficult. Admittedly, Mr Mnuchin might not have been able to get Mr Trump’s approval for any OECD reform. But now the dispute is playing out on the presidential Twitter feed. And for once, Mr Trump will be able to deny that he started it.
法国政府似乎正对特朗普以其人之道还治其人之身——用单边行动向谈判对手施压。但这可能让原本就棘手的谈话难上加难。不可否认,努钦也许没能让特朗普批准任何经合组织的改革。但现在,纷争在总统的推特上上演。而这次,特朗普终于能否认是他挑的头了。

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