The public choice of higher French tax rates

Remember last week when Hollande and the Socialists proposed a top marginal rate of 75% and enjoyed a boost in the polls?  Suddenly the idea is meeting with greater public resistance:

Even though the vast majority of earners in France wouldn’t be liable, Hollande’s tax has been a headline-grabber in the presidential campaign, partly because football is proving to be among the most vocal of its critics. Only income above 1 million euros ($1.31 million) would face the top whack of 75 percent. The first million earned would be taxed at lower rates. Just 3,000 of the highest-earning taxpayers in France are likely to be affected.

From French league president Frederic Thiriez down, the refrain is often the same: top players will flee to countries with lower taxes, leaving France — the 1998 World Cup champion — with second-rate football. Thiriez estimates 120-150 players — about one-quarter of those in France’s top division — earn enough to make them liable for Hollande’s tax. In Italy, Germany, England and Spain, which have Europe’s strongest leagues and clubs, top income tax rates range from 43 to 52 percent. The current top rate in France is 41 percent.

“It would be the death of French football,” Thiriez told sports newspaper L’Equipe. To RMC radio, he spoke of a “catastrophe” and of France relegated to “play in the second division of Europe, along with Slovenia or countries like that.”

Michel Seydoux, president of current French champion, Lille, said Hollande’s tax would produce “an impoverished spectacle.”

Still, there is pushback:

He’s thrown back the criticism from football, suggesting it is living too well. Specifically, he cited the multimillion euro salary the Qatari owners of Paris Saint-Germain reportedly pay their Italian manager, Carlo Ancelotti.

“Football administrators need to clean house a bit,” Hollande said. “Does the level of our league justify such astronomic salaries?”

…”When you see their cars in the garage here, it makes you sick,” said Thomas Mascheretti, a fan who approved of Hollande’s proposal.

File under: Ideas have Consequences.

The article is here, and for the pointer I thank Fred Smalkin.


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