The Another

    The French government opposes the creation of a ‘green wealth tax’ to combat climate change



    The Economy and Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire during a visit to the HappyVore factory in Chevilly (Loiret), May 17, 2023.

    No debt, no taxes. As far as the executive branch is concerned, the fight against climate change will have to do without these two financing tools traditionally used by France in response to crises. On Tuesday, May 23, the day after the publication of the report by economist Jean Pisani-Ferry on the financing of the fight against global warming, several members of the government took turns on-air to defend the line taken by Emmanuel Macron since 2017 .

    The report submitted by the economist to Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne estimates the need for public and private funding at nearly 70 billion euros per year to address the climate crisis and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It recommends increased recourse to debt (by 10 points of GDP by 2030), coupled with an exceptional tax on the financial assets of the 10% of the wealthiest taxpayers, which would raise 5 billion euros per year. The financial wealth of households is in fact no longer taxed since the abolition of the wealth tax (ISF) in 2018, a tax refocused on real estate. Only income from these assets – financial returns, dividends, capital gains – are now taxed at 30% via the “flat tax.”

    The Finance Ministry’s response was immediate. “Is taxation a solution? No!” concluded Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, Tuesday, speaking on RTL. The minister, who has once again championed himself as the guardian of fiscal stability, said the report presents tax policy “as an option, not a necessity.” He pointed out that the taxpayers who would be targeted “already pay 75 percent of the income tax.” “Our policy is to lower taxes, to lower the tax burden in a country that has the highest tax burden of all developed countries,” he insisted, saying instead that he wanted to “reassure taxpayers.”

    The same is true of government spokesman Olivier Véran, who on France Inter dismissed the idea of ​​a new tax already being dubbed the “green wealth tax.” “If a tax were enough to transform our country and the future of the planet, that would be great. But I don’t believe this is really the case,” he explained on Tuesday, saying he was convinced that “we can get there without ” taxation.

    ‘No philosophical barriers’

    Meanwhile, Ecological Transition Minister Christophe Béchu was more open to the idea. “The question of a tax is not something that should be taboo,” he said on FranceInfo. “Not everyone has the same carbon footprint (…). In the same way that on a global scale, there are solidarity mechanisms that consist of asking the countries of the North to finance part of the transition, it is legitimate for this question to be asked in the national sphere.” This does not reflect the government’s position, he was sure to point out to the Prime Minister’s office: “On the financing proposals [put forward by the report]Olivier Véran spoke this morning on behalf of the government.”

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