France no longer has the highest taxes in the EU

French taxes are famously high - but no longer the highest in Europe, after a new report saw France knocked off its top slot.

France no longer has the highest taxes in the EU
Bercy, home to the French Economy and Finance Ministry. Photo: Ludovic Marin / AFP.

After leading the way in 2017 and 2018, France was overtaken by Denmark in 2019 as the European country which raises the most taxes, according to a European Commission report on the state of taxation in the EU, published on Monday.

France’s tax revenues for 2019 represented 45.5 percent of GDP, compared to Denmark’s 46.1 percent. Belgium came third at 43.6 percent, with Ireland far away in last place, raising 22.1 percent of GDP.

French tax revenues were slightly lower than in 2018, when they amounted to 46.3 percent of GDP.

READ ALSO Who needs to make a tax declaration in France?

Overall, France raised €1.1 trillion in taxes in 2019. For comparison, the United Kingdom only raised €852 billion.

Overall, 52.9 percent of France’s tax revenue went directly to social security funds (including healthcare) – the highest proportion of any EU member state.

A large percentage of tax revenue in France comes from social contributions paid by employers, equivalent to 10.1 percent of GDP.

READ ALSO The vocab you need to understand French taxes

Despite France losing the top spot overall, large French companies pay more taxes than anywhere else in the Bloc.

The implicit tax rate (effective average tax burden) on corporate income was 33.2 percent in 2019, far ahead of Greece in second with 24 percent.

France is also among the European countries which impose the heaviest tax burden on high earners. The top rate of income tax including surcharges is 51.5 percent for 2021, putting France in sixth place, behind Denmark, Greece, Belgium, Portugal and Sweden.

President Emmanuel Macron introduced a number of tax cuts in 2020 in response to the ‘Yellow Vest’ protest movement. Nevertheless, the report from the European Commission predicted that France will regain its place as the European country with the highest taxes in 2022.

Member comments

  1. Perhaps not the highest tax but certainly the amount of commodities that are taxed. Such as electricity which has tax upon tax.

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Mayor of southern French town bans smoking in cars

The mayor of a town in southern France has banned smoking in cars in an attempt to limit forest fires - many of which are caused by carelessly discarded cigarette butts.

Mayor of southern French town bans smoking in cars

With France facing a hot, dry summer, some areas have already been hit by wildfires, while many others in the south of the country are on a high alert.

One of the major causes of the devastating fires is carelessly discarded cigarette butts, so the mayor of the commune of Langlade in the Gard département in south east France, has enacted a special decree banning smoking.

Smoking will be banned in a number of outdoor spaces that do not have facilities, including the town’s soccer stadium, shooting range, archery range, tennis courts – and also bans drivers from smoking in their cars. The decree is in force through the whole of the commune of Langlade.

The decree runs until July 31st and offenders risk a €15 fine – although local authorities told the Gazette de Nîmes that their main priority is raising awareness of the risk of fire from smoking, rather than handing out fines.

The Gard département has already been hit by a wildfire that destroyed several hundred acres, and firefighters have warned that the south of the country is ‘like a tinderbox’ because of the unusually early heatwave and drought that has left land parched.

READ ALSO What to do if you see a wildfire

In France smoking is banned in enclosed public spaces, but is legal in outdoor spaces such as open-air sports grounds and on the outdoor terraces of bars and cafés.

Smoking in a private vehicle is legal, as long as there are no young children in the car. Smoking while driving is not explicitly banned, but drivers can be fined if they are not in proper control of the vehicle.