France: billionaire exporting country

The influential daily evening newspaper Le Monde mentions the Lillian Bettancourt case, but only to focus on another issue – the flight of the richest taxpayers from France, which is prompted by very high taxes on large fortunes.

We must pay tribute to Liliane Bettancourt, the richest woman in France pays taxes in her country. Unlike the Wertheimer families (owners of the Chanel brand), Prima (Schlumberger concern), Peugeot or Bik, who all moved to Switzerland. Or the Mulhouse families (owners of the Auchan group), Allé (Carrefour), or Guerlain, who, in turn, preferred Belgium. Unlike all of them, the richest woman in France, who owns the main stake in L’Oreal, seems to have never been tempted to get free from the French tax office to move to Geneva.

And yet, billionaires are what France exports best. So, 821 Frenchmen, whose savings were subject to a special tax on extra-large fortunes (ISF, “joint tax on wealth”) left France in 2008 (this is 15% more than a year earlier). The number of “tax fugitives” for 2009 is still not known exactly. But between 1990 and 2003, 350 “tax fugitives” left the country each year. And since the middle of 2000, their number has doubled (649 in 2005, 843 in 2006, 719 in 2007 and 821 in 2008).

Where are they all going? All the oldest and richest families have chosen Switzerland. Retirement owners of newly created estates often travel from France to Belgium when reselling their firms, where there is no tax on net capital.

The flight of the owners of the largest fortunes from France is connected with the large state tax (ISF) existing here. Since the mid-2000s, the number of people paying this tax has doubled. Only in 2009 there was a recession, but this was undoubtedly connected with the global financial crisis.

The phenomenon of tax emigration is the reason why the state treasury was missing tens of millions of euros. Obviously, new legislative decisions are required.

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