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24 August 2011

“Please tax us more,“ say France’s super-rich

16 of France's wealthiest people sign a petition asking the government to raise their taxes.

By Samira Shackle

A group of 16 of France’s wealthiest people have signed a petition asking the French government to raise their taxes. The group call for a “special contribution” targeting the rich.

The petition, published on the website of weekly magazine Le Nouvel Observateur, says:

We are conscious of having benefited from a French system and a European environment that we are attached to and which we hope to help maintain.

The group includes Liliane Bettencourt, the billionaire heiress of L’Oreal; Christophe de Margerie, the head of oil giant Total; Frederic Oudea of bank Société Générale; and Jean-Cyril Spinetta, president of Air France KLM SA.

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This follows US billionaire Warren Buffett‘s call to increase taxes on the super-rich:

I know well many of the mega-rich and, by and large, they are very decent people. They love America and appreciate the opportunity this country has given them… Most wouldn’t mind being told to pay more in taxes as well, particularly when so many of their fellow citizens are truly suffering.

The French signatories may get their wish — President Nicolas Sarkozy is looking at altering tax exemptions for the wealthy. The backlash from Republicans against Buffett indicates that his wishes are less likely to be fulfilled.

Is there any chance of this movement coming to Britain? Well, it certainly doesn’t seem likely that Sir Phillip Green or Lord Ashcroft, will be signing a similar petition any time soon. In the meantime, here is what George Osborne has to say on our current rate of 50p tax:

There’s not much point in having taxes that are very economically inefficient. I’ve said with the 50p rate I don’t see that as a lasting tax rate for Britain because it’s very uncompetitive internationally, and people frankly can move. What is it actually raising?