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 235.

    Of course the real implications of this are more serious - no-one will want to play football for Paris St Germain or Marseilles any more! The French can kiss goodbye to any chance (slim though they are anyway) of a French club winning any European trophies in the future.

  • rate this

    Comment number 234.

    It's only the amount that you earn above 1 million euros that will be liable to 75% tax. A person earning 1.2 million will pay 580 361,85 euros of income tax ( 48%) instead of 462 350,03 euros (41%) if François Hollande is elected. That's a raise, but it's not 75% ot the total income as it is mentioned on your website.

  • rate this

    Comment number 233.

    Simple system of 25% for all income no matter what source, corporate, salary, cap gains the lot. Make it all standard no avoidance issues and no need for 30,000 hmrc bean counters trying to track down and monitor tax avoiding chappies like Ex mayors of london. Most 'rich' pay corporation tax at 20% if any tax at all right now. Oh and Consultants who pretend they are a COMPANY of 1 :-)

  • rate this

    Comment number 232.

    The good news is that, if he gets in, it will be good for the UK Exchequer, and the economy of Kent as, depending on the location of their business, there will be plenty of rich French becoming either Swiss or UK domiciled and then commuting to work across the border

  • rate this

    Comment number 231.

    Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. The west will burn, because it is full of idiots who think up and support such ideas. Here in commie europe we had even "better" tax law: the authorities could come in, and arbitrarily state how much of your wealth is "too much" to be "socially just", then confiscate. They still went bankrupt, with inflation reaching 50% a month in 1989.

  • rate this

    Comment number 230.

    High income persons resort to tax shelters when hit by an oppressive rate of payment. Milton Hershey was forced to pay a high rate of income tax so he created the Milton Hershey School for tax relief.

  • rate this

    Comment number 229.

    whats the point of making money if you have to pay that much in taxes that guy is gonna lose on this the idiot
    and France's rich will leave the country if this would happen

  • rate this

    Comment number 228.

    Having a small group of extremely high earners in society, damages society, they just want more and more. All they do is acquire more things that they don't need and save money. Trickle down doesn't work. High taxation of earnings over reasonable amounts is the correct way to add balance to society. This is not the politics of envy this is the politics of conflict avoidance and fairness.

  • rate this

    Comment number 227.

    I see a lot of remarks that top earners would leave France if the top tax were increased. I say let 'em go, and good riddance, and take away their citizenships, too, so that next time they need France, e.g. as a market for their goods, or as a place to get medical care, they can bloody go to Hell. These greedy capitalists want all the benefits of Society, without paying a fair price for them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 226.

    I don't know enough about the tax system in France to know if this is is feasible, but as an American I have seen the gap in income between the rich and everyone else that has grown exponentially since the adoption of Reagan's supply-side tax policies. That, combined with the deregulation of the banks, has led to disaster. There is a reason for the Occupy movement.

  • rate this

    Comment number 225.

    After £10k or £15k and real expenses it should be 50% whatever the income.

    The real question is how anyone gets to earn that much in the first place.

    Unless you set up the company/you are the artist/footballer/etc it probably means a bunch of like-minded chums are voting each other the company assets.

  • rate this

    Comment number 224.

    I thought he had more sense than that. His ex-partner (and mother of his four children) Segolene Royale more than ably demonstrated how easy it is to alienate the floating voters with silly ideas. (like escorting women police officers home from work) and now he seems to be determined to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Sarkozy must think its Christmas.

  • rate this

    Comment number 223.

    So what. In the UK high earners pay:
    50% income tax
    11%NI (plus the same again in employers NI)
    and then
    20% VAT what's when they spend it.

    That's 81% from corporate profit that was already taxed at 30%

    Then add in beer tax, wine tax, car tax, tobacco taxes, insurance tax, poll tax and all the other taxes.

    And still people say tax the rich. I say tax the work shy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 222.

    Ah. the socialists. Those that want what from those that have worked for their money and do nothing themselves. Having walked back from the shops in our area and seeing the amount of litter and mess on the streets I say if you have the money to get away then do so, otherwise you will be dragged down to their level. What price cleanliness? Let the litterers prove that they are worth it. Doubt it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 221.

    Its a bit like our politicians saying the olympdics will come in on or under budget.

  • rate this

    Comment number 220.

    Do socialists ever read books?

    Probably Marx's "Das Kapital". Although they've never been able to create any wealth; only, whenever they took over - untold misery.

    [ask anybody who had to live in the Socialist block: from Albania, Bulgaria and Estonia to Poland, Romania, Russia and Ukraine.]

    Btw., have you ever been to North Korea or Vietnam, comrades?

  • rate this

    Comment number 219.

    It is pre-election trick which aimed on majority who concerns of this issue. New technologies and science will bring much more bucks in coffers than just redistribution of what we have.

  • rate this

    Comment number 218.

    Nobody should be able to make more than 1mln so it should be 100% at that point (irrespective of how it's earned).Avoidance and evasion should be treated with stiff jail sentences and there should be no loopholes. Sadly, it's the only way to shift people's priorities and a encourage a cultural change for the better. We also need a tax on accumulated wealth.of the ultra-rich.

  • rate this

    Comment number 217.

    75% will lead to massive tax avoidance and possibly less tax being paid in total.

    Why should those who work hard to be successful be punished by having to support those who do not?

    Four socialist/left governments in europe two years ago... Portugal, Greece, Italy were all included.

    Clearly Socialist govt has a lot to learn about economics.

  • rate this

    Comment number 216.

    Its so typical of the BBC to allow a debate on the internal tax policies of an opposition spokesman in a foreign country and yet have no debate on a far more important national issue, namely the present governments changes to the NHS.


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