I must be slowing down as I get older, so it’s time of rectify this oversight.
If you think I’m exaggerating, just check out this chart on government spending. The public sector in France is more bloated than the ones that exist in Italy, Sweden, and Greece!
That’s quite an achievement.
And then remember that the new French President is imposing a new top income tax rate of 75 percent. Though, to be fair, President Hollande generously says he doesn’t want the overall tax burden on any taxpayer to exceed 80 percent. All hail Francois the Merciful!
Notwithstanding this magnanimous gesture, some taxpayers have the gall (no pun intended) to object to this level of fleecing. Famous actors and successful entrepreneurs are among those saying Au Revoir and moving to jurisdictions that have less punitive tax laws.
What most amuses me about this exodus is the way France’s political elite is throwing a temper tantrum. How dare our victims run away!
Which raises an interesting question. How brightly is the fuse burning, and how much longer until the bomb detonates?
The honest answer is that I don’t know, but here are two stories worth noting.
First, you have to figure the tax burden is a bit too onerous if even high-ranking officials from a socialist government are utilizing tax havens to protect themselves. Here are details from a BBC report.
Jean-Jacques Augier, who managed Mr Hollande’s campaign funds, told the daily Le Monde that there was “nothing illegal” in his tax haven affairs. Meanwhile, ex-budget minister Jerome Cahuzac has been charged with fraud. Ministers are under pressure to reveal what they knew about his tax evasion. On Wednesday President Hollande addressed the scandal on national television, saying that in future all ministers and MPs would have to declare fully their personal finances.
Gee, don’t these members of the political elite understand that Hollande wants them to be able to keep 20 percent of their earnings? What a bunch of ingrates!
Our next story shows that French politicians are so greedy that they’re even willing to undermine their own national sport.
Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault’s office issued a statement today confirming that a 75 percent surcharge on salaries above 1 million euros ($1.3 million) will apply to soccer clubs. “This new tax will cost first-division teams 82 million euros,” France’s Football League said in a statement. “With these crazy labor costs, France will lose its best players, our clubs will see their competitiveness in Europe decline, and the government will lose its best taxpayers.” …Many soccer players would already be taxed at France’s top marginal rate of 49 percent, which kicks in at 500,000 euros a year. Teams would then pay a surcharge to bring the effective tax rate on salaries above 1 million euros to 75 percent.
Mon Dieu! The government “will lose its best taxpayers.” Sounds like the Laffer Curve effects may be so large that the government actually loses tax revenue.
And since even left-leaning economists have confirmed that tax rates have a big impact on the decisions of such athletes, I hope French sports fans won’t mind if all the best players decide to take their talents elsewhere.
With policy this bad, no wonder Obama will probably never achieve his goal of turning America into another France. But he can take comfort in the fact that the French people overwhelmingly support what he’s trying to do.
But they also must be schizophrenic. As of 2010, an overwhelming majority of them also acknowledged that it was necessary to lower the burden of government spending to boost growth. And an astounding 52 percent of them might move to evil capitalistic America if given the opportunity.
The key thing is not to import French economic policy. Having escaped from her former country, Veronique de Rugy explains why that would be a mistake.
You can also watch Veronique explain the basics of fiscal policy in this testimony to a congressional committee.
P.S. This Chuck Asay cartoon captures the French mentality. Makes you wonder what they’ll do when the house of cards comes tumbling down. All I can say for sure is that the ones who put their money in tax havens will be much happier than the ones who thought they could trust government.