The French Supreme Court has rejected that country’s version of the “Buffett Rule,” a 75 percent tax on millionaires, calling it unfair andsaying its design was unconstitutional.
French PresidentFrançois Hollande is the Barack Obama of Europe. He’s a moderatesocialist who came to power promising to balance France’s budget whilesimultaneously restoring the generous social benefits the French demand.His plan was to soak the rich.
But it hasn’t been working out too well for Hollande. Gerard Depardieu, one of the country’s top actors, has decided to move to Belgiumto avoid the new tax rate. The Prime Minister calledDepardieu “pathetic” and suggested that paying high taxes was “an act ofpatriotism.” U.S. Vice President Joe Biden made a similar comment about the wealthy in 2008.
Depardieu responded to the attack on his patriotism with an open letter which read in part: “I’m leaving because you think success, creation, talent and anythingdifferent should be punished. I am sending you back my passport andsocial security, which I have never used.”
Saturday, Depardieu got aid from an unexpected quarter. In a surprise move, the French high court overturned the 75 tax rate,saying that its design was capricious and unfair. The Prime Ministerhas vowed to adjust the design and resubmit it to the court.
Themore significant fact is that the tax is entirely symbolic. It isestimated to raise $100-$300 million Euros a year, while the currentFrench deficit is $85 billion. Again, the similarity to Obama’s BuffettRule is striking. Never has so much presidential effort–more than ayear spent harping on it–been expended to raise so little money from sofew people. But when you’re leading a socialist government, even amoderate one, certain things are expected. Targeting the rich, whilecapricious and ineffective, is one of them.