France’s wealthiest join Warren Buffett’s call for the ultra-rich to pay higher taxes

France’s wealthiest are joining Warren Buffett’s call for higher taxes on the ultra-rich while their government plans austerity measures and cuts for the non-wealthy (BBC):

Sixteen executives, including Europe’s richest woman, the L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt, offered in an open letter to pay a “special contribution” in a spirit of “solidarity”.

Later the government is due to announce tighter fiscal measures as it seeks to reassure markets and curb the deficit.

They are expected to include a special tax on the super-rich.

Before the announcement, expected on Wednesday evening, a letter appeared on the website of the French magazine Le Nouvel Observateur.

It was signed by some of France’s most high-profile chief executives, including Christophe de Margerie of oil firm Total, Frederic Oudea of bank Societe Generale, and Air France’s Jean-Cyril Spinetta.

They said: “We, the presidents and leaders of industry, businessmen and women, bankers and wealthy citizens would like the richest people to have to pay a ‘special contribution’.”

They said they had benefited from the French system and that: “When the public finances deficit and the prospects of a worsening state debt threaten the future of France and Europe and when the government is asking everybody for solidarity, it seems necessary for us to contribute.”

They warned, however, that the contribution should not be so severe that it would provoke an exodus of the rich or increased tax avoidance.

The move follows a call by US billionaire investor Warren Buffett for higher taxes on the American ultra-rich.

Like in France, the USA’s wealthiest individuals and businesses have benefited — hugely — from the American tax system over the past 30 years. The income inequality in our country is bordering on criminal. But apparently it isn’t yet enough, as the GOP Teaparty continues to fight for more tax cuts for the rich and powerful, and more tax loopholes and subsidies for profitable corporations — most of which have outsourced formerly American jobs overseas.

Maybe France’s elites remember their history and how the let-them-eat-cake-mentality ended. America may have to have its own ‘let them eat cake’ moment as well.


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