The British government has announced it will implement a new tax on the revenues of multinational technology companies, becoming the biggest economy to introduce a levy aimed specifically at US groups like Apple and Amazon.

The 2 per cent tax, which would come into effect in 2020 unless an agreement is reached on an international “tech tax” regime, would be imposed on profitable companies that generate revenues of more than £500m a year globally.

“It’s only right the global giants pay their fair share,” Philip Hammond, the UK chancellor of the exchequer, said as part of his annual Budget announcement.

Big tech groups have benefited from corporate tax rules that target profits based on where a company develops intellectual property or has a physical presence. This means they often pay little tax in the European markets where they sell their products and services

The new British levy on revenues will only apply to UK-generated sales, and is expected to raise more than £400m a year. Spain is the only other major economy to have introduced such a scheme.

The chancellor said the government would consult on the new tax, and would continue to talk to the OECD and G20 about a joint solution that could replace the UK digital services tax, “if one emerges”.

“I’m already looking forward to my call from the former leader of the Liberal Democrats,” Mr Hammond joked — a reference to Nick Clegg, the former deputy prime minister who was recruited by social network Facebook as its new global affairs and communications chief earlier this month.

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