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French elite ask to pay more tax

Thursday, September 01, 2011 - 02:05

Sept. 1 - Super-wealthy French ask their government to tax them more, as the country looks for way to cut its national deficit. Kirsty Basset reports.

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It might seem like a strange request to some but France's super rich want to pay more taxes. A who's who of French society, including L'Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt have signed a petition calling on the government to create a 'special contribution' tax, to help boost the country's coffers and pay off the national debt. Multimillionaire banker Jean Peyrelevade is one of sixteen who signed the open letter. (SOUNDBITE) (French) BANKER JEAN PEYRELEVADE SAYING: "I don't have a huge fortune, but I am wealthy and one of the lucky ones. If my taxes were raised by 10%, it wouldn't shock me at all." In the petition the millionaires say they are "conscious of having benefited from a French system and a European environment" that they hope to maintain. It echoes a call made by Warren Buffett, who argued that America's wealthy had been "coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress" and should also be paying more tax. In France at least, politicians are taking notice, last week unveiling a proposal - which could see a 3 per cent tax on revenues of more than 500,000 euros a year. The tax will be voted on next week and will be dropped once France meets its deficit target of 3 per cent of GDP. (SOUNDBITE) (French) BANKER JEAN PEYRELEVADE SAYING: "To my surprise, I think that this little letter could well be the start of something, it could well make people ask what duty the rich have to help the rest of society and by how much." But critics say the move would be largely symbolic - and motivated by a desire to make a clampdown on tax breaks for the less well off more palatable ahead of next year's presidential elections. Kirsty Basset, Reuters.

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French elite ask to pay more tax

Thursday, September 01, 2011 - 02:05