On March 26, 2021, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) announced the next steps in its Section 301 investigations of Digital Service Taxes (DSTs) adopted or under consideration by ten US trading partners. In January, USTR found that the DSTs adopted by Austria, India, Italy, Spain, Turkey, and the United Kingdom were subject to action under Section 301 because they discriminated against US digital companies, were inconsistent with principles of international taxation, and burdened US companies. USTR is proceeding with the public notice and comment process on possible trade actions to preserve procedural options before the conclusion of the statutory one-year time period for completing the investigations.
The USTR had posted advance copies of the Federal Register requests for comments and notices of virtual public hearings, which were published in the Federal Register on March 31, 2021 (see table below for links to the individual notices). In the notices, USTR requests comments with respect to any issue related to the action to be taken in each investigation. In each case, USTR has proposed an ad valorem tariff of 25% up to the amount shown in the table below, to be assessed on products specified in the annex to each notice. Certain interested persons may wish to provide written comments or oral testimony on multi-jurisdictional issues common to two or more investigations. To avoid duplication, the USTR portal will have a separate docket for multi-jurisdictional submissions, and USTR will hold a separate multi-jurisdictional hearing.
A Multi-jurisdictional virtual hearing on the proposed actions will be held on May 3, 2021. The common deadlines that apply to all listed jurisdictions to be assured of consideration are as follows:
- Submit requests to appear at a hearing, along with a summary of the testimony, by April 21, 2021.
- Submit written comments by April 30, 2021.
- Submit multi-jurisdictional hearing rebuttal comments by May 10, 2021.
In addition, there will be virtual hearings for each of the six countries. The dates of the those hearings and the dates country-specific rebuttals are due are shown below (Links are to the advance notices posted by USTR):
|Docket No. and Federal Register Link||Country||Proposed Action||Virtual hearing on country||Country Rebuttal due|
|USTR-2021-0002||Austria||25% up to $45 Mn./yr||05-11-21||05-18-21|
|USTR-2021-0003||India||25% up to $55 Mn./yr||05-10-21||05-17-21|
|USTR-2021-0004||Italy||25% up to $140 Mn./yr.||05-05-21||05-12-21|
|USTR-2021-0005||Spain||25% up to $155 Mn./yr.||05-06-21||05-13-21|
|USTR-2021-0006||Turkey||25% up to $160 Mn./yr||05-07-21||05-14-21|
|USTR-2021-0007||United Kingdom||25% up to $325 Mn./yr.||05-04-21||05-11-21|
The USTR also said it was terminating the Section 301 investigations of DSTs under consideration by Brazil, the Czech Republic, the European Union, and Indonesia because these jurisdictions either have not adopted or not implemented a DST during the period of investigation. The Federal Register notice announcing the terminations was also published on March 31, 2021.
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