Richard Blau Quoted in Law360 Tax Authority Article

Washington, DC – January 7, 2020 – GrayRobinson's nationwide alcohol law department chair, Richard M. Blau, was quoted in the Law360 Tax Authority article “Wine Tariffs Would Cost Thousands Of US Jobs, Distributors Say.” The article details the hearing held in Washington on January 7, 2020 in which alcohol distributors and other industry members warned that proposed 100 percent tariffs on French champagne and other products, which the U.S. Trade Representative's Office is considering in retaliation for the country's digital services taxes, could cost thousands of U.S. jobs.

The tariffs on French products ranging from wine to cosmetics were proposed by the Trump administration to retaliate against France’s 3 percent digital services tax, which targets total revenue from online activities. U.S. officials contend the levy amounts to a discriminatory tax on the U.S. tech sector. Negotiations at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development to craft a multilateral alternative have stalled, while tensions between the two countries continue to escalate.

Mr. Blau, representing fine wine retailer Sokolin LLC, testified at a hearing convened by the USTR’s Section 301 Inter-agency Committee in Washington DC.  Speaking before representatives from US Customs and Border Protection, USDA, the Department of Commerce, the State Department and Treasury, as well as the Office of the USTR,  Mr. Blau explained the various ways in which the proposed retaliatory tariffs on EU wines imperil thousands of small businesses across America, and jeopardize hundreds of thousands of jobs nationwide.  He also noted that the proposed wine tariffs do nothing to advance America's interests in the underlying trade dispute, which is focused on France's imposition of a new tax on digital services companies like Amazon, Facebook and Google.

According to the U.S. trade representative's notice, the office will continue to accept submissions on the issue through January 14th. A decision on the tariffs is expected after that. Subscribers may read the full article here.