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article imageMacron walks back on pledge to end 'exit tax' on high earners

By AFP     Sep 16, 2018 in Business

France will keep a less restrictive version of its "exit tax" on wealthy people who take assets out of the country, and not completely scrap it as President Emmanuel Macron pledged earlier this year.

The 30 percent levy was introduced by former president Nicolas Sarkozy to keep top earnings from leaving France for countries with lower tax rates.

But Macron said in May he would abolish the tax as part of a push to make the country more attractive to investors, which critics say has led to fiscal relief for the wealthiest along with other polices that make him the "president of the rich".

"People are free to invest where they want. If you want to get married, you should not explain to your partner, 'If you marry me, you will not be free to divorce,'" Macron told Forbes magazine.

A finance ministry spokesman confirmed to AFP on Saturday that the tax would be kept as part of the 2019 budget plan to be presented later this month, following a report by French financial daily Les Echos.

However the tax will now be levied only if assets are sold within two years of a person's leaving France, instead of 15 years currently.

It applies to people who have been in the country at least six years and have stocks or bonds worth more than 800,000 euros ($930,000), or who own at least 50 percent of a company that moved out of France.

The tax is "a bureaucratic headache for taxpayers" because they have to provide guarantees and file annual declarations for years after leaving the country, the ministry spokesman said.

- Aiming to bolster growth -

Macron, a former investment banker, has pledged a series of reforms aimed at bolstering economic growth and investment, including making it easier to dismiss workers.

He has also made no secret of his desire to see more people looking for work, at one point calling reform opponents "slackers" and criticising union protesters for "stirring up trouble" instead of finding new jobs.

French President Emmanuel Macron welcomed the public at the Elysee Palace in Paris
French President Emmanuel Macron welcomed the public at the Elysee Palace in Paris
Anne-Christine POUJOULAT, POOL/AFP

Greeting people during an open-house visit at the Elysee Palace on France's national heritage weekend, Macron dismissed a young man's claim that he couldn't find work.

"I'm 25 years old, I send resumes and cover letters, they don't lead to anything," said the aspiring gardener.

"If you're willing and motivated, in hotels, cafes and restaurants, construction, there's not a single place I go where they don't say they're looking for people. Not one!" Macron replied.

"If I crossed the street I'd find you one," he said.

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