The World Trade Organization will weigh in on Trump tariffs. President Trump’s tariffs on imported steel and aluminum prompted trade complaints by the European Union and Canada to the WTO. In separate filings, the EU and Canada claim that Trump’s tariffs violate the WTO’s 1994 General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and its Agreement on Safeguards. The WTO shared the complaints with its members yesterday. Canada and Mexico have already retaliated, the EU plans retaliatory tariffs in July, and if the WTO finds Trump’s tariffs to be illegal, the EU could impose another $4.2 billion in tariffs on American goods beginning in 2021.
And Hill Republicans are getting increasingly nervous about trade. House Ways & Means Committee Chair Kevin Brady, usually a reliable Trump supporter, told reporters yesterday, “There is a growing frustration that the administration is not listening to the concerns of Congress on the tariffs.” House Republicans, facing a very difficult election in November, are much more sensitive to business interests (and their campaign contributions) than the president appears to be. Brady did not say, however, whether he’d back a bill introduced by Sen. Bob Corker to block Trump’s tariffs.
Trump aide wants to slow the EU’s digital tax. While the White House is battling the EU over trade, top economic aide Kevin Hassett has some advice for the union about its own taxes: Go slow on the its proposed 3 percent tax on revenues of tech companies such as Google and Facebook. Hassett told Politico’s Aaron Lorenzo, “I think that we have to move very slowly in this space. Europe is getting way out over its skis and we don't support their approach."
SEC: Definition of “securities” won’t change to include cryptocurrency. Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Jay Clayton says “We've been doing this a long time, there's no need to change the definition.” Right now, a virtual currency token, like bitcoin, could be simultaneously considered a security, akin to a stock or bond; a commodity, a scarce resource with inherent value; and a currency.
Forty years after California’s Proposition 13, what have we learned? Writing for The Hill, TPC’s Kim Rueben and Richard Auxier review the history and impact of the ballot initiative that transformed California’s tax landscape. It remains as popular and complicating as it was in 1978.
Speaking of history, the Tax Hound takes a look way, way back. She’s got tax protests and business boycotts on her mind. There was that tea-related situation in Boston a couple of centuries ago…but what are we to make of the action in Seattle in the wake of its head tax on large employers?
In Uganda: A new tax on mobile money transactions is a little… mobile. The nation’s finance minister said that the tax approved by the Ugandan parliament is different than the one agreed upon by the cabinet. The Excise Duty Amendment would levy a one percent tax on electronic transactions. The finance minister says that the cabinet and ruling party agreed to only a half-percent tax. He was out of town when the parliament passed the new tax.
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