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Arnault: I’ll sue paper over ‘Get lost’ taunt

France's richest man, Bernard Arnault, said Monday he would sue a newspaper over a front-page headline – "Get lost, you rich idiot!" – which came after he said he was applying for Belgian nationality.

Arnault: I'll sue paper over 'Get lost' taunt
Photo: Nicogenin

Arnault, the boss of the luxury conglomerate LVMH, insists his move is not aimed at avoiding high taxes about to be imposed on the wealthy by France's new Socialist government.

"Bernard Arnault has no other choice, given the extreme vulgarity and the violence of the headline… but to sue Libération," he said in a statement that said he was suing the left-wing daily for libel.

The headline, superimposed on a photo of the smiling LVMH boss carrying a red suitcase, is a play on a comment by ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy, who publicly muttered "Casse-toi, pov' con" ("Get lost, you poor idiot") at a man who refused to shake his hand.

The words became a taunt used by Sarkozy's left-wing critics.

Arnault, the world's fourth-richest man whose fortune Forbes magazine estimates at $41 billion, was close to Sarkozy.

He rejected criticism that he was being anti-patriotic on Sunday, insisting he was not becoming a tax exile, despite seeking Belgian nationality as crisis-hit France moves to impose a 75-percent tax on top earners.

"I am and will remain a tax resident in France and in this regard I will, like all French people, fulfil my fiscal obligations," he told AFP, adding that the bid for dual nationality was "linked to personal reasons".

Following the election of previous Socialist president Francois Mitterrand in 1981, Arnault lived in the United States for three years, returning to France after the Socialists switched to a more conservative economic course.

In a televised interview Sunday evening, President François Hollande, also a Socialist, said Arnault "must weigh up what it means to seek another nationality because we are proud to be French".

"One has to appeal to patriotism during this period," he said.    Arnault's move has been widely condemned by French political parties on both the left and the far-right right as treacherous.

But François Fillon, who was prime minister under Sarkozy, denounced "stupid decisions" on the part of the current government which lead to "terrible results".

British Prime Minister David Cameron triggered a war of words with France in June by vowing to "roll out the red carpet" for French firms if Hollande implemented the new tax rate.

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Do you pay tax on cryptocurrency in France and if so, how much?

Cryptocurrency is big business in France but the rules on the taxation of income from the currency differ to other countries.

Do you pay tax on cryptocurrency in France and if so, how much?

Bitcoin. Ethereum. Tether. Mining. Binance. To the uninitiated, cryptocurrency can sound like a different language. But, in France, it’s big business, with an estimated 3.4 million people reportedly holding at least some “crypto”.

In May, France became the first major European nation to give approval for cryptocurrency exchange Binance to operate in the country.

But this does not mean the country is operating a light touch on cryptocurrency regulations – a fact Changpeng Zhao, Binance’s CEO and founder, recognised at an event in Paris in April to launch a government-backed programme for “Web3” start-ups.

As cryptocurrencies become more mainstream, more and more people may be looking to get on board. But, is it taxable? How is it taxable, and how much tax do you have to pay?

First things first: yes, cryptocurrency income is taxed. It’s income. It’s taxable.

The tax rate applicable for capital gains and income from crypto assets depends on whether you’re a professional trader, an occasional investor or a miner.

France’s Direction Générale des Finances Publiques (DGFiP) says that capital gains from the sale of crypto assets like bitcoins are currently taxed at the following rates:

Occasional investors – flat tax rate of 30 percent, made up of 12.8% income tax and 17.2% for social security contributions

Professional traders – BIC tax regime of 0-45 percent.

Crypto Miners – BNC tax regime of 0-45 percent.

The flat rate for occasional investors applies to individuals with financial investments in crypto assets, and other investment income like dividends and life insurance, not to professional traders. 

The DGFiP will only tax capital gains from crypto when crypto is converted into euros or any other fiat currency, if the total capital gain exceeds 305€ per year.

That means those who only dabble in crypto pay less than those who make their living from it.

The difference between an occasional investor and professional trader lies in how often you “dabble”. 

The more you play the crypto market, the more likely you are to be regarded as a professional trader – in which case the variable rate of 0 percent to 45 percent applies.

The point at which an occasional investor and professional trader isn’t obvious – that decision is made on a case-by-case basis – but the DGFiP’s working out on this calculation is based on the total investment amount, trade volumes, and how often you sell cryptocurrency. 

The more often you do this, the more likely you are to be considered a trader.

Mining, meanwhile, falls under the non-commercial profits regime of the general tax code. For more details, click on the government website, here.

As for declaring any crypto accounts you may have, there’s a special section on your annual French income tax declaration. Transfers into legal tender currency (but not another cryptocurrency), as well as purchases of goods or services using crypto, are taxable.

The overall amount of the capital gain (or loss) for the year must be entered in the annual income tax return, along with the details of the transactions

Fines for failure to declare a single bank account or investment scheme are hefty – from €1,500 to €10,000, with €3,000 being a fairly common penalty. These amounts are applied to each account you fail to declare.

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