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 195.

    He obviously doesn't want to get elected, or else he earns so much that a 70% tax rate wouldn't bother him. That's the big problem with today's politicians, they are overpaid or rich to begin with, and are unaffected by tax rates, unlike the rest of the community. He probably proclaims himself as the champion of the worker, just as our left wing politicians do while they bleed the workers dry.

  • rate this

    Comment number 194.

    Never seen a Socialist yet who was a wealth creator. yep they can say others should pay 75% on everything over a million. They can sit around outside St.Pauls telling everyone else how they should run their business. But I don't see them actually showing it can be done with their own money. Maybe all the socialists should remortgage, buy companies and show us all.
    That will be the day.

  • rate this

    Comment number 193.

    133 Openminded really? - lets do the risk calc...
    1) You know that >70% business start ups fail in first two years
    3)You start the business,sign away everything you have to VCs & bank, but the wife, the kids are out on the street should you fail.
    4) pay the VCs "mangement fees"+ Interest on the loan,

    Do you still think 75% tax after first €1M is fair? - Me, I'll buy a lottery ticket!

  • rate this

    Comment number 192.

    58.Anurag Somani
    If a person is smart enough to earn a million euros, he/she would be smart enough to live elsewhere too!

    Plenty of nice places for succesful enterpreneurial people: from Caymans and Costa Rica to Lichtenstein, Monaco and Switzerland.

    [Enterpreneurs of the whole world - unite!]

  • rate this

    Comment number 191.

    All for it, for the French, drive the rich French here and they can pay just 50% we gain, the French lose, perfect policy.

    If I were unfortunate enough to be French of course, the idea is sheer spite and lunacy. Standard fare of the left.

  • rate this

    Comment number 190.

    Do socialists ever read books?

    If they did, they would see that this policy has never, ever worked. In fact it actually raises less money in taxes.

    So, perhaps Mr Hollande should be promising to tax the rich AND the poor. But then he's a socialist, so this should go without saying.

  • rate this

    Comment number 189.

    I am not rich but 75% of income tax is not right decision. It was rather made to satisfy middle class before election than resolve economic problems.It'll cause exodus of elite and will have bad impact on whole economy. Even if passes,this law will be undone later.

  • rate this

    Comment number 188.

    151. working Stiff
    40 Minutes ago

    Haha you didn't disappoint!

    Hilarious :)

  • rate this

    Comment number 187.

    75%? Bloody good idea.

  • rate this

    Comment number 186.

    There's a children's story that covers this. It's called the Little Red Hen. Every 6 year old I've met gets it, so why is it so hard for some people here?

    The farm animals speak:

    We didn't help think of it,
    We didn't take a risk on it,
    We didn't invest in it,
    We didn't work on it,

    ...but it looks tasty, so we sure as **** want a huge piece of it!

  • rate this

    Comment number 185.


    25. powermeerkat
    "Your capitulation to the owners of capital is striking yet, unfortunately, probably the norm. They are not the producers of wealth in any country."

    They supply needed capital while Commies only steal it.

    "Tax them, and if they run off, seize their assets and nationalise."

    Soviet Commies tried that already. And that's why they're no more.

  • rate this

    Comment number 184.

    Most of France has this soixante-huitard mentality that workers are the true producers of wealth and employment is exploitation, so this will go down with a lot of people. Of course, you´d be stupid to open a business which makes a fortune in France if they introduce this but presumably they are protecting France from further exploitation.

  • rate this

    Comment number 183.

    Clearly most people on here do not earn at the level to be elligible for this high tax (me neither). I do not however begrudge those people their income nor do I think they owe me a living. Governments mismanage funds so badly. They would have failed in business long ago. These high earners do so in a free market, distort that with goverment intervention and you rapidly approach communism

  • rate this

    Comment number 182.

    He has an advantage that the UK does not:

    The prospect of leaving France, for any reason, including lower tax, would be quite dismal, understandably, for a Frenchman.

    For many people in the UK, the thought of leaving for any reason at all might be quite nice, on the other hand.

  • rate this

    Comment number 181.

    Socialist delusion: all would be fine if the rich gave "us" their money. They already do to some extent through a thing called the tax system. Every 2nd € above 48,000 p.a. goes to income tax. Top-bracket earners work for the state somewhere between a third and half their working lives. Would everyone be happier if no one could afford a Ferrari? I doubt it. And it won't solve the Euro crisis.

  • rate this

    Comment number 180.

    Simple. Do what the Brits did under similar circumstances: don't be a high earner it isn't worth it; find a good tax fiddle; or go live somewhere else.

  • rate this

    Comment number 179.

    @165concerned citizen
    We used to have a salary cap for footballers. In 1958 it was £20 a week, I suppose about twice the working man's wage. That would put Wayne Rooney on about £40,000 a year. I don't suppose any footballer would go for shares, though. Due to the stupid salaries most football clubs are in debt. We could swap roles. Rooney running a bank and the bankers getting some late tackles

  • rate this

    Comment number 178.

    75% is too high a tax rate. A better rate would be about 40%, but that's unlikely to be the socialist policy. The French economy may be better served by another Sarkozy government.

  • rate this

    Comment number 177.

    How many people reading these comments earn above a million Euros? Of course when your earning that much you don't have anything better to do!

  • rate this

    Comment number 176.

    With the 'average' UK citizen managing on a salary of about £27000 75% tax on anyone earning over 1 M Euro seems reasonable enough. Should do it here ! Re 58. Smart has nothing to do with it, greedy and ruthless is a better description as I spend most of my days with these kind of people.


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