|Bruno Le Maire
is a new entry this year
Since becoming the French finance minister in May 2017,
Bruno Le Maire has made his tax views known to anyone who will
listen and to those who share his opinions on enacting changes
that will see governments win the 'fair share of tax'
His desire to make changes and firm stance on tax matters,
despite being in his role for less than a year, has won him a
place in the Global Tax 50.
This French politician and former diplomat has been
attacking the US multinationals that he believes to not be
paying enough tax and is on a quest to change this –
whether it is through the courts or an EU-wide agreement on
measures such as a digital tax framework or an equalisation
So far, Le Maire has attacked Airbnb, challenged Google on
its permanent establishment status, joined forces with Germany,
Spain and Italy to lobby for an EU-wide approach, and made
changes domestically that have been both welcomed and detested
Most recently, Le Maire sided with many tax justice
activists when he said that jurisdictions on the EU tax
blacklist should face sanctions for their non-compliance to
force them to change. "Having a list of countries is one step,
but we also need sanctions and we have to implement the
sanctions," he said, the Financial Times reported. "We cannot
accept any longer to have tax evasion."
In November, he fought back at criticism over the one-off
corporate surtax to recover the €10 billion ($11.7
billion) lost in repaying taxpayers for a tax on dividends that
the courts said is against the French Constitution. When the
banks called for an exemption to be made for mutual, the
finance minister dismissed them. He argued that the law must go
ahead as it already stands and any such exemption would be
A month earlier, however, Le Maire offered some rest bite
for the corporate taxpayers that he has been attacking. In the
2018 budget, Le Maire, together with Gérald Darmanin,
minister of public action and accounts, proposed measures to
boost the competitiveness and attractiveness of France to
foreign investors, as well as support investment and
innovation, and meet its climate change commitments under the
Paris Agreement. This includes cutting the corporate tax rate
and enabling economic growth.
But Le Maire will not been remembered for these things as
his highlights of 2017. His stamp on the tax landscape stems
from the September Economic and Financial Affairs Council
(ECOFIN) meeting where he introduced a political statement,
with the backing of Germany, Italy and Spain, to "no longer
accept that these companies [such as Google, Amazon, Apple and
Facebook] do business in Europe while paying minimal amounts of
tax to our treasuries".
The ministers have suggested introducing a turnover tax that
would impose a higher tax burden on companies by charging tax
on the national turnover of tech companies, rather than taxing
their profits. They claim this is necessary to gain a fair
contribution from digital platforms, but the proposal has
raised fears among other leaders of EU member nations that big
businesses could shun the EU and instead grow their businesses
in Asia where the tax policies are often much friendlier.
Despite the fears that a tough stance on MNE taxation could
harm the EU, Le Maire is undeterred in his campaign for
multinationals to pay a fair share of tax.
With Le Maire's tax aspirations, International Tax
Review suspects this won't be the last time he appears on
the Global Tax 50.