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Wall Street Journal | Le Tax Fairness

It turns out that, 220 years later, the French Revolution has something to contribute to mankind other than a warning about bloody ideological passions. In a ruling loaded with arguments from the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, France’s Constitutional Court on Saturday invalidated the new 75% top French tax rate on grounds of—get this—unfairness.

The 75% rate on incomes above €1 million is Socialist President François Hollande’s signature economic proposal, and the opposition had challenged its legality on grounds that it is "confiscatory." That much would seem obvious, but the French court said it didn’t need to reach a decision on the confiscatory question because the tax didn’t meet the minimum requirement that it be applied equally.

Specifically, the court found that the tax didn’t take into consideration the needs and income of an entire household, as opposed to the individual earner, and thus the tax "has violated the requirement to take into account the ability to pay" and "infringed on the principle of equality before public burdens."


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