Francois Hollande New Year speech: France’s president vows to revive supertax
French President Francois Hollande says he still plans to raise the top rate of income tax after his 75% plan was struck down on technical grounds.
In a national address on New Year’s Eve, Francois Hollande said the law would be redesigned, adding, “we will still ask more of those who have the most”.
However, the president did not mention the 75% figure, leading some to speculate that the move would be watered down.
Francois Hollande also promised “all efforts” towards cutting unemployment.
The number of jobless broke the three-million barrier for the first time this year, prompting Francois Hollande to say the trend must be reversed.
He has been criticized for lacking direction, and his popularity levels have plummeted, since he took power in May.
Francois Hollande acknowledged the “serious and legitimate” concerns of the public, and that there had been “fits and starts” in his first six months.
But the president insisted France would emerge from the financial crisis “sooner and stronger” than expected because of action by his government.
“We’ve set the course – jobs, competitiveness and growth – and I will not deviate. It’s the future of France,” he said.
The Socialist president said he would resubmit his flagship policy of raising income tax for those earning more than 1 million euros ($1.3 million) a year.
It was rejected by the Constitutional Council on Saturday because, unlike other forms of income tax, it was to be applied to individuals rather than households.
Francois Hollande said while the law would be “redesigned” its objective would remain the same – that those who could afford to do so should pay more to France’s effort to tackle its deficit.
The policy has angered France’s business leaders and the right-wing opposition, who say it discourages entrepreneurship and wealth-creation. It has led to some wealthy citizens, like the actor Gerard Depardieu, to say they would emigrate.
While the measure is popular with Francois Hollande’s supporters on the left, some analysts think it may be dropped or watered down, possibly by raising the income level at which it is paid.
“I suspect this tax will be shelved,” Philippe Gudin, an economist for Barclays and a former French treasury official, told Reuters news agency.
“For the [low amount of] revenue it would raise, the outcry it has provoked and the damage it has done to France’s image, it would be more sensible if it were quietly buried.”
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