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French multi-millionaires offer to pay more taxes
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French multi-millionaires offer to pay more taxes

Matthew Warren · 18 Aug 2011, 10:22

Published: 18 Aug 2011 10:18 GMT+02:00
Updated: 18 Aug 2011 10:22 GMT+02:00

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After the world's third wealthiest man, Warren Buffet, launched a call for higher taxes on the super-rich, some prominent French multi-millionaires have followed suit.

Pierre Bergé, the former boss of Yves Saint Laurent, and Maurice Lévy (pictured), the head of worldwide advertising group Publicis, have both spoken up in support of Buffet.

In an article published in the New York Times earlier this week and titled "Stop Coddling the Super-Rich", Buffet wrote that his tax bill in 2010 was just 17 percent of his taxable income. This was lower than the average 36 percent paid by the people who work for him.

Buffet cited data to show that the tax rate on the top 400 wealthy Americans fell from 29.2 percent in 1992 to 21.5 percent in 2008. He called for higher tax rates on anyone earning more than $1 million, with even greater contributions from those making more than $10 million a year.

Interviewed by newspaper La Tribune, Pierre Bergé, a Socialist party supporter, backed the proposals. 

"I agree with Warren Buffet," he said. "It's abnormal, even immoral, that the richest people should have a lower burden than others. They should pay as much as everyone else."

Bergé also said he agreed with fellow billionaire, advertising boss Maurice Lévy, who made a series of proposals to help France deal with its budget problems.

Writing in Le Monde on Wednesday, Lévy called for "an exceptional contribution of the most well-off" to help the country cut the deficit. 

A report by newspaper Libération on Thursday claims that while most French people on modest incomes pay a total of 45 percent in taxes, the wealthiest 500,000 get away with an average rate of just 35 percent.

France has a number of high-profile billionaires including Bernard Arnault, head of luxury goods company LVMH, L'Oréal heiresss Liliane Bettencourt and François Pinault, who heads up the PPR group.

Budget minister Valérie Pécresse yesterday told radio station Europe 1 that fairness would be at the heart of efforts to reduce the country's swollen public finances.

"We have to make sure that the demands made on French people are fairly shared out," she said. "This notion of justice and equality will be at the heart of the discussions we will have on the budget."

Matthew Warren (news.france@thelocal.com)

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