Favourite for French presidency wants 75pc tax for rich
Published 29/02/2012 | 05:00
French presidential front-runner Francois Hollande yesterday threatened a 75pc tax on the income of the super-rich, setting off a major political storm.
In a spectacular gesture towards left-wing voters, the moderate Socialist candidate said he would impose the tax hike on marginal earnings over €1m if he was elected president on May 6.
The proposal, which took even some of Mr Hollande's senior supporters by surprise, was intended to wrest momentum from French President Nicolas Sarkozy who has been throwing out new initiatives daily since he entered the race.
The Socialist candidate, still the clear favourite in fresh polls published yesterday, said a super-tax on those earning "100 times the minimum wage" would be an act of "social justice" and "patriotism".
Opponents condemned the 75pc tax band as an "absurd" idea, dreamt up "on the hoof" for electoral gain, which would raise little extra revenue and drive wealth creators out of France.
Mr Sarkozy accused Mr Hollande of "improvisation" and "amateurism".
"Not a single other politician in the world, not one, thinks this is a good idea," he said.
The 75pc super-tax would make France the least comfortable place to be rich in the EU. At most, 30,000 people, and maybe as few as 6,000, would be affected.
The high tax rate would apply only to those earning above €1m (€2m for married couples). Earnings up to those ceilings would be taxed on a sliding scale of up to 41pc.
It was not entirely coincidental that Mr Hollande (57) made the proposal on the eve of today's visit to London. In his first big campaign rally in January, the Socialist candidate delighted hard-left voters by saying that his "real opponent" was the "world of finance".
Three new opinion polls published yesterday went some of the way towards clearing the confusion caused by divergent first-round polls last week.
Both showed that Mr Sarkozy had narrowed Mr Hollande's lead for the first round of the election on April 22 but that the Socialist challenger was still on course to win the second round by a landslide.
In one poll yesterday, by Ifop, Mr Hollande's first-round lead was cut to 1.5pc -- 28.5pc to Mr Sarkozy's 27pc, with other candidates trailing far behind. (© Independent News Service)