French govt. could consider bringing back wealth tax

The French government signalled on Wednesday that it was prepared to make further concessions to “yellow vest” protesters, even raising a possible rollback on a controversial move to cut taxes for high earners last year. President Emmanuel Macron faces a crucial few days as he seeks an end to more than two weeks of protests. The “yellow vest” protests began on November 17 in opposition to rising fuel taxes, but they have since ballooned into a broad challenge to the government’s pro-business agenda. One of the demands from the protesters, who are mostly from rural or small-town France, is a repeal of Mr. Macron’s move last year to cut the ISF “fortune tax” which was previously levied on high-earners. ‘We can change it’ “If something isn’t working, we’re not dumb, we’ll change it,” government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux said on RTL radio on Wednesday, saying that the wealth tax would be evaluated. Mr. Macron was heckled late on Tuesday as he visited a burned-out government building in central France, hours after a new opinion poll showed his approval rating at just 23%. Mr. Griveaux stressed that reinstating the ISF “is not on the table for now,” but Equality Minister Marlène Schiappa said she would argue to bring it back unless the tax cut could be shown to be effective. On Tuesday, Prime Minister Édouard Philippe announced the first major retreat of Mr. Macron’s presidency when he suspended for six months a rise in fuel taxes scheduled for January 1. A source in the Prime Minister’s office said that “the government has not necessarily played all of its cards”, with more concessions such as a further cut in residence taxes possible.

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