France Sees Tax Deal Near, Pushes for Minimum Rate Above 15%

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French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said he is confident the Group of 20 economies will back a deal on international tax, even as his country pushes for a higher minimum corporate rate.

The G-20 meeting in Venice is poised to give its backing to a deal signed by 131 countries for a minimum corporate levy of “at least 15%,” and new rules for dividing up the tax revenues from the world’s largest companies -- particularly U.S. tech giants.

A handful of countries not in the G-20 have refused to back the deal, including Ireland, which has expressed concerns about how new mechanisms could prevent it from luring investment with lower tax rates. The negotiations are set to continue over the summer with an aim of getting a concrete agreement in October.

“I am very confident and I think we can have a groundbreaking agreement on international taxation,” Le Maire said in an interview with Bloomberg TV in Venice. “For France, we aim at having more, more than 15% for minimum taxation.”

As well as haggling over the final rate, the talks in the coming weeks could also stumble on how and when countries will withdraw unilateral digital levies once the global deal is finalized.

The U.S. is wary of the European Union’s plan to propose a levy later this month. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is due to travel to Brussels on Monday to discuss the issue with her counterparts.

Le Maire said the digital levy is just one of several possible taxes the EU is discussing to finance the debts built up during the pandemic.

“There are many tools on the table and we will discuss those tools,” Le Maire said. “Let’s be open, let’s listen to the concerns of the U.S. administration.”

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