French election: Hollande wants 75% tax on top earners

Francois Hollande washes a cow as he visits the Paris international agricultural fair, 28 February  Mr Hollande visited the Paris international agricultural fair on Tuesday

The Socialist favourite in France's presidential election, Francois Hollande, has said top earners should pay 75% of their income in tax.

"Above 1m euros [£847,000; $1.3m], the tax rate should be 75% because it's not possible to have that level of income," he said.

Speaking on prime time TV, he promised that if elected, he would undo tax breaks enacted by Nicolas Sarkozy.

The tax proposal was condemned by his political opponents.

Opinion polls suggest the gap between the Socialist candidate and Mr Sarkozy has narrowed.

The two are tipped to reach the run-off on 6 May, after eliminating other rivals on 22 April.

Taxation for the rich has become a hot campaign issue, with tax advisers in neighbouring Switzerland saying that higher taxes for the wealthy in France could spark an exodus, Reuters news agency reports.

Many of France's richest celebrities already live abroad.

'Patriotic' tax

The French right-of-centre newspaper Le Figaro reports that Mr Hollande's announcement on the TF1 channel appeared to take party colleagues by surprise.

Jerome Cahuzac, responsible for budgetary affairs on Mr Hollande's campaign team, was questioned about the 75% rate on another channel, France 2, just minutes afterwards.

Start Quote

[Francois Hollande] invents a new tax every week without ever proposing the smallest saving”

End Quote Valerie Pecresse Nicolas Sarkozy's budget minister

"You are asking me about a declaration which, for my part, I haven't heard," he said.

Mr Hollande himself renewed his call on Tuesday, saying the 75% rate on people earning more than one million euros a year was "a patriotic act".

"It's a signal that has been sent, a message of social cohesion, there is an effort to be made," he explained.

"It is patriotic to agree to pay a supplementary tax to get the country back on its feet."

Centrist presidential candidate Francois Bayrou dismissed the idea.

He told another TV channel, BFMTV: "I think it was [French film director Michel] Audiard who used the rather rough phrase: the rubbish-ometer [French: deconnometre] is working overtime."

Ministers from Mr Sarkozy's ruling UMP party also attacked the proposal.

Francois Hollande "invents a new tax every week without ever proposing the smallest saving", said Budget Minister Valerie Pecresse and Foreign Minister Alain Juppe denounced the plan as "fiscal confiscation".

When Mr Sarkozy came to power in 2007, he introduced a "tax shield" that capped tax at 50% of all income.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 75.

    A simple quick way to kill the goose.

    Reflect - when folk earning above 1m (£ or euro's) leave the country, not only do you not get any tax on the top slice at 75% - you don't even get a slice of the first million.

    In Britain we've direct experience of "soak the rich" policies - back in the 60's it was called the "Brain Drain" - anyone with brains, and earning capacity - left.

  • rate this

    Comment number 74.

    Take note, Cameron! ... Only make it 99%!

  • rate this

    Comment number 73.

    tax systems should be constructed on fairness,ability to pay and above all commonsense.if this is achievable,and i'm not saying it is.we then need to be agressive with the shirker's and scroungers who buck the for the french there claims were tried in the 70's mr healey's "pip squeak policy"it can do harm as well as good,i would advice to think long and hard on such promises.

  • rate this

    Comment number 72.

    The countries with the highest quality of life are the ones with high taxes. If you want all the services then you must pay for them. It also brings down the gap between rich and poor. People must start to think of community as a whole rather than just selfishly thinking about their own pocket. I would like to close all the tax havens in Europe as well.

  • rate this

    Comment number 71.

    That's fine, the UK will gladly welccome

    Danone, Renault, Peugoet-Citroen, Total, Sanofi-Aventis, GDF Suez, EDF, AXA, France Telecom, Vinci, etc...

    here with their corporate bases.

    You can keep BNP Paribas and the rest of the dead-beat French banks.

  • rate this

    Comment number 70.

    The French Revolution

    Count De Monet - I have come on the most urgent of business. It is said that the people are revolting!
    King Louis - You said it; they stink on ice.

    Brooks M. (1981), History of the world part I, Retrieved from

  • rate this

    Comment number 69.

    this is what happens when one part of society is seen to benefit more than others.It creates a sense of great injustice that no matter how hard you work you will never enjoy the privilleges the elite enjoy with their tax breaks and wealth beyond our wildest fantasies.The camels back has been well and truly broken.

  • rate this

    Comment number 68.

    Misguided references to communism, hard nosed references to econmical ignorance, and even a reference to the proletariat - HYS never ceases to amaze.

    It does boil down to 2 broad questions though

    1) How can anyone be worth £1m pa? And why do they need that much money? How do you spend it?

    2) Do these people EARN that much, or do their over worked & under paid employees do the donkey work?

  • rate this

    Comment number 67.

    64. English_Wolf

    That must say a lot for how much self-worth many people in the U.S have as they would rather die in a hospital bed if they were uninsured, than fight for universal health care as a means of providing equal opportunities to the most important right of all; the right to life. Clearly you've picked the place to be.

  • rate this

    Comment number 66.

    57. Armchaircritic

    That is a little bit of a sweeping statement.. Not every one who is poor, working class or what ever we call the proletariat these days has not studied or worked hard. Many are well educated, but are caught in a bad situation or have chosen to work out side of big business (medicine, science, teaching etc.). The problem is that peoples worth is measured by their bank account.

  • rate this

    Comment number 65.

    Hey come to the cayman islands......I pay absolutely zero income tax
    Cigar and champagne anyone.
    The French are only welcome if they don't boast about their rugby team

  • rate this

    Comment number 64.

    55. dogsIRL Only if you consider self-worth as being deluded on how important you and you country really are.

    Remember the French symbol: a rooster. I love rooster, marinated in wine and herbs, otherwise, it is useless bird that only known to crow and **** chickens.

  • rate this

    Comment number 63.

    The only debate about this should be whether 75% is high enough! After all this doesn't come into effect until earnings go past the million euros mark - at that point it should be considered you have plenty and so 90% would be more appropriate. The practicalities of it are another matter but that shouldn't distract from the fact that this would be a step in the right direction.

  • rate this

    Comment number 62.

    Some common sense at last. No-one needs a million dollars a year to live on. What is the point in people having so much money that all they do is leave it in the bank while the vast majority of people on the planet struggle? We even have a task system which encourages people not to pay tax! The world would be a more peaceful place if people did not have to fight to survive.

  • rate this

    Comment number 61.

    French socialism shoots itself in the foot again. What an idiotic proposed tax policy - can't the French socialists learn from the history of the failed politics of envy? Not just from the Soviet empire, but from the 1970s UK & France itself since WW2. Talent and hard work will not be eradicated, but will simply move to where the fuits of labour and talent are not misappropriated by the state.

  • rate this

    Comment number 60.

    25. powermeerkat
    "Want a social recession? Vote for Socialists!"
    Well, I've no idea what a "social recession" is, but we appear to be living through an economic one, and you can hardly blame "socialists" for that, can you? Or if you're an American, you probably can.

  • rate this

    Comment number 59.

    Hollande must be suffering from some inbred genetic disease. The people of France must understand that anytime the rich are taxed further, it is the workers that get less. And who does the French government think it is taxing with abandon? Cap the tax at a single rate-> 10%, and let everybody pay that. I mean every body! Restrict government raises, and have them live within their means.
    Master Rod

  • rate this

    Comment number 58.

    isn't 75% over-the-top?
    If a person is smart enough to earn a million euros, he/she would be smart enough to live elsewhere too!

  • rate this

    Comment number 57.

    Why is it so fashionable to wealthy beat right now? Those people have studied, worked hard, etc. instead of those who have not.

  • rate this

    Comment number 56.

    More bizarre French left wingers, no doubt be reducing the working week to 25hrs. Its amusing to look at Frances public sector borrowing under their various left wing govts, shorter and shorter working weeks, higher and higher public pensions and more and more borrowing.

    I can never work out what was left wing about short weeks, big pensions and getting your kids to actually pay for it?


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