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‘Breach of Equality:’ French Court Strikes Down Tax on Wealthy

By Jack Phillips
Epoch Times Staff
Created: December 29, 2012 Last Updated: December 31, 2012
Related articles: World » Europe
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French President Francois Hollande visits the Rungis wholesale market near Paris on Dec. 27, 2012. On Dec. 29, the Socialist president's 75 percent tax on France's richest was struck down. (Benoit Tessier/AFP/Getty Images)

French President Francois Hollande visits the Rungis wholesale market near Paris on Dec. 27, 2012. On Dec. 29, the Socialist president's 75 percent tax on France's richest was struck down. (Benoit Tessier/AFP/Getty Images)

The French Constitutional Council tossed out President Francois Hollande’s 75 percent income tax rate for the rich on Saturday.

The tax, which was championed by Socialist Hollande while he was running for president, would affect people who make more than 1 million euro ($1.32 million). The Council, which is France’s highest legal body, said it was “excessive” and a “breach of equality of taxes,” reported France24.

The tax proposal forced some of France’s wealthy to leave the country, including actor Gerard Depardieu, who moved to nearby Belgium. If it were implemented, the two-year tax plan would have only affected some 1,500 people living in France.

The Council also noted that most of France’s income tax rates apply to households and not individuals. Under Hollande’s tax, wealthy individuals would be affected, but the court ruled it “failed to recognize equality before public burden,” reported Radio France Internationale.

The Council was concerned that the new tax would adversely affect a married couple where one person earns more than a million euros and the other does not, while at the same time it would not affect a couple where each person makes just under a million euro, according to France24.

In a statement on Saturday, French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said that the government “will propose a new device that conforms to the principles laid down in the decision of the Constitutional Council” and it will be included n the next budget.

“It symbolizes the need for the effort to be more fairly shared,” Ayrault said, according to France24.

Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici said that the rejection of the tax would not affect France’s recovery much.

“The rejected measures represent 300 to 500 million euros. Our deficit-cutting path will not be affected,” said Moscovici on television, reported Reuters.

During his campaign, Hollande described the tax as “patriotism” because it “sets a good example” to allow France to economically recover, reported Euro News.

But the tax has proven to be politically contentious.

“We live in a democracy and sometimes we all need to stand united. I find it normal that high revenues are taxed,” one Parisian told Euro News. Another disagreed: “Seventy-five percent is confiscatory. We are the only country in the world to do that. What’s more, it’s symbolic, it won’t bring in much.”

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