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November 2018

Does the digital services tax idea add up?

Hands up anyone who thinks the UK government will go ahead with its plans to implement a digital services tax on its own? Let me remind you what that tax is. It was given prominence on 1 October 2018 when Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, made his speech to the Conservative Party Conference. It’s understandable if you missed it with all the universal celebration accompanying Prime Minister Theresa May’s announcement that austerity is over (and the excitement over her dancing entrance). As an aside, this is the second time the PM has featured in headlines signalling the end of austerity, as she did the same thing in June last year. Anyway, in his speech, Hammond made some pertinent points about the growing influence of global tech giants and digital platforms, comparing them to the “near-monopoly of Standard Oil and the railroad cartels” in the late 19th century which “led to the introduction of the world’s first monopolies legislation”. He said that their growing influence “raises new questions about whether too much ...

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