French taxman second greediest in world

Confirmation (if any was really needed) that the French taxman is one of the greediest in the world came this week from the OECD. However he wasn't as avaricious as the tax man of one other European country.

French taxman second greediest in world
Photo: AFP

France’s tax revenues rose once again in 2014, meaning the French face the second highest tax burden in the world.

The word tax has of course long been synonymous with France and confirmation of why became clear in the latest OECD study on countries' tax revenues.

The study, which looks at the tax burden of the each of the developed countries in the OECD, showed that France’s tax receipts had risen once again in 2014 by 0.2 percent.

Tax revenues in France now stand at 45.2 percent of the country’s GDP.

However that wasn’t enough to put France top of the table.

The title for the OECD country with highest tax burden in the world goes to Denmark, where tax revenues are worth 50.9 percent of GDP.

After France came Belgium where tax revenues were worth 44.7 percent of GDP in 2014. In Germany the percentage was 36.1 percent – down from 36.5 percent in 2013, the UK was 32.6 percent and the United States was just 26 percent – fourth from the bottom of the table.

The average for the OECD countries is 34.4 percent.

While Germany has a lower tax burden than France, it earns more through income tax and levies on consumption. However the French tax man pulls in more than his German counterpart through taxes on companies and welfare charges.

The study shows that after dips in tax revenues between 2007 and 2009 caused by the financial crisis, the percentage of tax burden has risen again to its highest level since 1965.

France's high tax rates have often been blamed for why so many French seek to head abroad.

A recent study from Les Echos newspaper revealed that in 2013 the number of French tax payers earning over €100,000 a year leaving for abroad rose by 40 percent, with 3,744 individuals heading for the departure gates.
That compares to 2,674 in 2012, the year President François Hollande was elected, and 1,330 in 2010.
And for the very, very rich who earn over €300,000 each year, the number of nationals quitting France rose by 46 percent from 451 in 2012 to 659 in 2013
Les Echos notes that while the exodus of high earners rose by 40 and 46 percent, the increase in the overall number of French going abroad rose by six percent.
Another recent study on the migration flows of the world's richest people by New World Health also spelled bad news for France. Over the period of 2000 to 2014 France was ranked third in the world for the number of millionaires (42,000) who left the country.
But most studies suggest the French are simply heading abroad for professional rather than tax reasons and that goes for the country's most wealthy too.
Speaking to The Local previously, Fabienne Petit director of international activities at French firm Humanis, which works with French expatriates in the area of health cover and insurance, explained it was a myth about wealthy French fleeing the tax man.
“It’s a real cliché to say that all French people are going abroad for only fiscal reasons. In fact only 17 percent of people leave for financial reasons, so we need to put an end to this myth,” he said.






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Timbre fiscal: Everything you need to know about France’s finance stamps

If you're doing a French admin task, you might be asked to provide a 'timbre fiscale' - here's what these are and how to get them.

Timbre fiscal: Everything you need to know about France's finance stamps

In France, you can buy  a very particular kind of stamp to cover the cost of a titre de séjour, or French passport, to pay your taxes, get an ID card if you’re eligible, or pay for your driving licence.

Basically a timbre fiscale is a way of paying a fee to the government, and some online processes – such as the tax offices – now have the more modern method of a bank transfer or card payment.

However there are plenty of official tasks that still demand a timbre fiscale.

In the pre-internet days, this was a way of sending money safely and securely to the government and involved an actual physical stamp – you bought stamps to the value of the money you owned, stuck them onto a card and posted them to government office.

They could be used for anything from paying your taxes to fees for administrative processes like getting a new passport or residency card.

These days the stamps are digital. You will receive, instead, either a pdf document with a QR code that can be scanned from a phone or tablet, or an SMS with a unique 16-digit figure. Both will be accepted by the agency you are dealing with.

Once you have the code you need, you can add this to any online process that requires timbre fiscaux (the plural) and that will complete your dossier.

You can buy them from a properly equipped tabac, at your nearest trésorerie, or online

Paper stamps remain available in France’s overseas départements, but have been gradually phased out in mainland France.