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ELECTION

Will France’s 75 percent tax be cut down to size?

It’s appearing more and more unlikely that President François Hollande’s much-vaunted 75 percent supertax proposal will ever see the light of day. Claims in the French media on Thursday predict it will have to be set at a lower rate.

Will France's 75 percent tax be cut down to size?
Belgian Workers Party (PIB) militants hold boxes looking like laundry detergent, called 'Millionaires Tax', during a protest in front of Gerard Depardieu alleged new home. Photo: Philippe Huguen/AFP

The flagship proposal of Hollande's election campaign fell at the final hurdle in December when the country’s highest court – the Constitutional Council – ruled the tax on the highest earners was in fact "unconstitutional".

An embarrassed French government was forced to go back to the drawing board but insisted it would return with a new proposal.

But a report in Le Figaro on Wednesday has cast further doubt that the controversial 75 percent levy on those earning more than one million euros a year would ever be legally valid.

Le Figaro claims to have had access to a report by the State Council (Conseil d’État), a body which advises governments on the legality of new policies, which states that the ‘supertax’ band could only be as high as 66.66 percent.

Any higher and it will simply be ruled illegal once again by the Constitutional Council, Le Figaro claims.

This analysis needs to be adopted officially by the State Council before it is passed on to the government, where it is not likely to be well-received.

Hollande has been adamant that the country’s most wealthy must pay their way to help bolster the ailing economy.

Despite heavy criticism from business leaders and even actor Gérard Depardieu, the French government has insisted the tax will be brought in.

Earlier this year Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault swiftly dismissed media reports claiming the government had accepted defeat after the levy was snubbed by the Constitutional Council.

“We categorically deny these reports,” a defiant Ayrault said in February.

The Council ruled the tax was unlawful because it applied to individual income rather than household income, and therefore was not in line with France’s general approach to income tax.

We may not know the exact details of the new tax until the government reveals its finance plan for 2014 in September this year.

The French Communist Party’s Jacques Fath, responsible for international relations previously told The Local that dropping the 75 percent tax rate would be another broken promise by the government.

“This would just be another case of the government backing down under pressure from business and the Right. It’s a real shame,” he said.

“This was one of the most positive measures of the government’s election manifesto but in abandoning it they are showing they are not as orientated towards the left as they claim.

“This tax was necessary to make the fiscal system in France more equal,” Fath added.

A recent BVA poll for France’s i-TELE found that 61 percent of people supported in principle the idea of a separate tax on earnings over €1 million, but only 21 percent thought the rate should be at 75 percent or above.

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FOOD & DRINK

7 tips to keep your grocery shopping in France affordable

With rising inflation and cost of living, many people in France are desperate to keep their grocery bill low. Here are a few tips for how to avoid paying too much for food, drink and other everyday items.

7 tips to keep your grocery shopping in France affordable

With inflation ticking upward, we’ve seen prices rise, especially for things like fresh vegetables, meat, pasta and cooking oil. Even though inflation is affecting food prices less than energy prices, buying groceries is still a huge part of every household’s budget, and unfortunately things are set to keep getting more pricey. 

We’ve put together a list of a few ways you can save a few euro at the supermarket:

Figure out if you qualify for any government benefits

First things first, it is worth seeing whether you can qualify for any existing government assistance, like CAF. On top of this, the French government has promised to set up a food voucher of €50 per month for low-income households after the parliamentary elections in June. 

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: How to receive CAF payments in France

Compare store prices

Unfortunately, going to the closest supermarket is not always the most economical solution. If you prioritise grocery stores on the lower end of the price spectrum (and you’re willing to walk a bit further) you can save a lot of money. A helpful tool to find the cheapest store near you is the “Que Choisir” online interactive map (click here) that has listed 4,000 affordable stores in mainland France. 

Discount grocery stores, like Lidl and Aldi, are great options for saving a little extra at checkout. But if you must go to a pricier chain, like Monoprix for instance, try to buy Monoprix brand items – they’re typically a little less expensive than name brand foods.

Plan ahead to make the most out of discounts

If you go online ahead of heading to the grocery store, you can see which items will be discounted (“promotion”). If you cannot find this information online, you can always go to the store and ask for a catalogue of that week’s sales items.

Normally, this is something the cashier should have access to. With these discounts in mind, you can construct more affordable recipes. 

Franprix’s website, the ‘discounts’ page

Also, if you’re looking for cheaper recipes in general, you can always go to blogs and online recipe sites specialised in frugal shopping. If you want to try some French specific sites, you can test out “https://www.marmiton.org/” or “https://1repas1euro.com/recettes/

When it comes to discounts though, be careful about conditions involved (particularly when it comes to loyalty cards).

Sometimes these promotions promise a lot, but actually getting your money back might not be as simple as slashing a few cents at the checkout – you might need to send the coupon somewhere to get the discount, or wait for points to accumulate on your card.

That being said, you can optimise your discounts using several online sites that allow you to combine your loyalty cards (Fidme, Fidall, and Stocard). Other online coupon sites include Groupon, which allows you to make grouped purchases (therefore cheaper), and Coupon Network and Shopmium, which help you benefit from existing discounts. For cashback plans, you can look to websites such as Shopmium, iGraal, FidMarques and Quoty, which allow you to be reimbursed for a part of your expenses.

Make a list, set a budget… and stick to it

It might seem obvious, but when you go into the store, try to resist temptation. The best way to do this is to keep track (in real time) how much you are spending.

Some stores make this easier by allowing you to carry around a ‘self-scanner,’ this will help you to watch your bill go up as you shop. Another tip for this is to withdraw the exact amount of cash you expect to need for the essentials of your trip – obviously in order to do this, you’ll need to know the base prices of your essential items, so it will require a bit of planning ahead.

Buy (then freeze) soon-to-expire products

A consumer’s best friend and sure-fire way to decrease waste! Items coming up on their use-by-date tend to be discounted, so if you plan to purchase these foods and then immediately freeze them, you can significantly extend their shelf life.

Lots of supermarkets make this easier for you by dedicating entire shelves to “short shelf life” items that, according to Elodie Toustou, the head of the “Money” section of the magazine 60 Millions de consommateurs, opting for these foods will allow you to “pay three to four times less.”

Another great way to do this is to use applications like “Phénix” and “Too Good to Go.” These applications will allow you to set your geographic parameter and then click on food stores, restaurants, and bakeries in your area that are getting rid of “panniers” (sacks) of soon-to-be-expired foods. Lots of times these panniers cost only a couple euros.

The trick here is to plan ahead by arriving at the start of the allotted time (if the boulangerie on your corner is offering “Too Good To Go” bags from 11am to 2pm, try to get there as close to 11am as possible for the best items).

Re-consider markets and farmer’s stores

Contrary to popular belief, buying from farmers’ markets and grocers that sell predominantly local products actually can save you money, particularly if you are buying the seasonally relevant fruits and vegetables. Buying directly from a producer can also allow you to eliminate the margin taken by intermediaries. But be careful, this rule is not true all the time.

One way to benefit from cheaper prices at markets is to arrive as late as possible, when the merchants have started to pack up their products. This might allow you to benefit from lower prices or even free items, as they’ll be hoping to get rid of their remaining items.

Know what items are most impacted by inflation

Finally, as inflation continues to increase, try your best to monitor which foods are most impacted. If possible, it might be worth removing or limiting them from your diet – or looking for more affordable alternatives.

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