Slush fund? France reports on ‘reserve’ cash

A report released on Friday showed French lawmakers spent thousands in tax payer money last year on things like fishing and baton twirling clubs. The revelations come from a first ever accounting of a unique French parliamentary power.

Slush fund? France reports on 'reserve' cash
French lawmakers revealed on Friday how the spend €90 million per year in tax money. Photo: Joel Saget/AFP

For decades members of both chambers of French parliament have had at their disposal a sizeable pile of money that, with a minimum of hassle, they can hand out to organizations or towns of their choosing (including their own) each year.

The parliamentary reserve, at its called, was €90 million last year for the National Assembly, which on average came out to €130,000 per MP depending on his or her seniority. They spent €81.6 million of it in 2013.

Yet until a new report came out on Friday that accounted for each euro, there had never been a public explanation of how the money was being spent, French magazine Challenges reported. Yet the parliamentary reserve was first established as a practice in the Assembly in 1958.

According to the National Assembly website "These subsidies, offered by MPs, help finance investment in local projects…and also support the activities carried out associations."

In fact, many French institutions do benefit from the cash. For example, France’s Conseil d’Etat, the government’s top legal advisor got €250,000 from the president of the Assembly, who in addition to his €520,000 slice of the reserve last year and wielded €5.5 on behalf of the assembly. There was also much money put towards new gymnasiums or schools. 

But is all the money really being used how the rules intended? Here The Local looks at some of the strange, funny and potentially problematic recipients of the cash.

  • Deputy Laurent Wauquiez of conservative UMP party, gave a €1,000 subsidy to a car modification club (Raucoulestuning). He handed the same amount to a baton twirling club.
  • UMP Deputy Eric Ciotti, an apparent fan of the French lawn game pétanque,  gave out €11,000 to six clubs who specialize in the game.
  • Deputy Claude Bartolone, a socialist and assembly president, gave €100,000, on behalf of the assembly, to the Danielle Mitterrand Foundation. The human rights group was founded by the wife of former socialist president François Mitterrand.
  • Deputy Gilbert Collard, a member of far right party National Front, gave €40,000 to an organization that, according to media reports, is run by someone who worked with his electoral campaign. 
  • UMP Deputy Jacques Myard gave €1,000 to a fishing association called "L'épuisette du Vésinet" or the Net of Vésinet, which is a small northern France town.

  • Deputy François Sauvadet of the Nouveau Centre party gave €107,000 to Vitteaux, the town he represents. The sum amounts to about €100 per resident of the tiny east France village.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


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.