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French High Court OKs 75 Percent Tax For Top Earners

French President François Hollande.
Lionel Bonaventure
AFP/Getty Images
French President François Hollande.

Employers paying French citizens more than 1 million euros a year ($1.37 million) will have to pay a 75 percent tax for the next two years, France's top constitutional court ruled on Sunday.

As Bloomberg reports, the millionaire tax was a campaign promise from French President François Hollande. Bloomberg adds:

"Under Hollande's proposal, companies will have to pay a 50 percent duty on wages above 1 million euros ($1.4 million). In combination with other taxes and social charges, the rate will amount to 75 percent of salaries above the threshold, the court wrote in a decision published today.

"'The companies that pay out remuneration above 1 million euros will, as expected, be called upon for an effort of solidarity on remuneration paid in 2013 and 2014,' theEconomy Ministry said in an e-mailed statement.

"Hollande, who once said he 'didn't like' the rich, announced the 75 percent tax in February 2012 as part of his presidential campaign to appeal to his Socialist base. It has become a symbol of his government's record-high taxation rate."

The BBC reports that football clubs, which will be very much affected, went on strike to protest the tax, saying "many of France's clubs are financially fragile and say the plans could spark an exodus of top players who are paid huge salaries."

Film star Gerard Depardieu famously fled the country to avoid paying the tax. As we reported, Depardieu was even offered Russian citizenship by President Vladimir Putin.

"Polls suggest a large majority in France back the temporary tax," the BBC adds. "Unlike many other countries in Europe, France aims to bring down its huge public deficit by raising taxes as well as some spending cuts."

The high court at first rejected the tax because it was directed at individuals and amounted to a confiscation. Shifting the tax to employers and limiting it to 5 percent of a company's revenue satisfied the court.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.
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