The story of a birth, short existence and doom of the ‘millionaire tax’ in France is very instructive in many ways and that is why it deserves much more attention than we have paid to it till now. This idea has become a target of renewed critique, at this place as well. A man does not have to be a winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics – it is sufficient not to be ideologically blinded by left-wing delusions to envisage the baleful effects of its introduction.
To the very delusions the French voters have succumbed in the year 2012, when they believed in the promises of then president candidate Holland that 75 % tax on income over 1 million euro is a good thing, because it will help to make public finances more healthy and contribute to relieving income inequalities. This idea worked perfectly from the point of view of political marketing. Its realization was miles away, but, undoubtedly, a tangible result came into being at once: it helped Holland to win elections and made a French president from a president candidate. Who would not like to kill two birds with one stone, to solute problems of public finance and to scalp a little the hated rich men at the same time? In Slovakia many, including prominent politicians, have talked about the supertax with sympathy, too. And have not forgotten to criticize all the opponents of tax increases in our country.
Meanwhile the French has introduced the supertax. There was so much noise around it! Just remember: footballers in French league threatened with strike, the richest Frenchman Bernard Arnault asked for Belgian citizenship, well-known actor Gérard Depardieu moved to Belgium and the as known designer Karl Lagerfelt branded Holland – pardon my French – an idiot and accused him of ruining French economy. And Lagerfelt was not alone. All the critics agreed that benefits of the new tax would be lower than the government anticipated and that many Frenchmen would leave for abroad. And the experience proved they were right. French government let the supertax to extinct quietly and admitted that benefits it brought were a disappointment and that there are thousands of Frenchmen in ‘tax exile’ in Belgium and Switzerland that the government want to allure back by improving the investment environment.
Current Minister of Economy even back then as an advisor to Holland was an opponent to the millionaire tax and warned that it can change France to ‘Cuba without the sunshine’. Wall Street Journal branded the failure of this tax a lecture for all of us, who would like to use taxes as an instrument of the class struggle. There are many fighters for increasing taxes in our country as well. Will they finally learn from it, too?
Author: Ján Oravec
Translated by: Jana Kobzová