We have often discussed tax policy on this blog. I am in the minority here on tax policies, particularly the high rate imposed in various countries for top earners. I am admittedly more inclined to a Chicago-school view of such high tax rates than many on this blog. This story caught my eye for obvious reasons. The French government is reporting a 20 percent increase in one year of high earners in leaving the country. We have previously discussed how such taxes produce emigration by rational actors from markets. French President Francois Hollande ran on a pledge to soak the rich in tax increases, a popular political platform but a disastrous economic plan. The result has been predictable. The French economy is in terrible condition and thousands of French families are leaving the country for England, the United States, and other countries. Now, Hollande’s government has announced that it will rescind the tax increase. Hollande and his socialist allies refused to accept the obvious impact of such a tax and now, a few years later, it will remove the tax after losing a huge amount of high earner tax dollars.
The tax applied to all families with assets of more than €800,000 (£630,000). I have French friends who have told me about the devastating impact of the Hollande tax plans. One friend’s family decided to sell off most of their fishing boats because they could not handle the tax burden and make any profit. They let go most of their workers who joined the unemployment lines — adding another cost to such short-sighted policies. Another friend wanted to take his family back to France but decided that he could not because he could not start a business in the country. The business had customers and a market niche but the taxes would not allow him to make any serious profit.
Their stories are reflected in the new reports. Almost half a million French nationals now live in London alone — more than France’s sixth largest city. The number of expats leaving France has been increasing by two percent a year. The 20 percent of high-earners however is particularly harmful for the country, which is chasing away the very earners needed to invest in new businesses, hire new people, and pay most of the taxes.
Manuel Carlos Valls Galfetti, the Prime Minister of France, said that the tax will be rescinded in January. In the meantime, an amazing 85 percent of French voters now oppose Hollande serving a second term.