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France Mulls Paring Down Of Tax Breaks

July 2011 - Tax & Private Client. Legal Developments by Hassans.

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Budgetary rapporteur of the French Senate Philippe Marini has recently put forward the idea of paring down as broadly as possible existing tax breaks in France (les niches fiscales), passing right across the board, and within the framework of the country's 2012 budget.

Underlining the fact that there is still significant room to manoeuvre, Marini insisted that implementing a general reduction in tax shelters would be the best method to adopt rather than simply addressing each tax break in turn at the risk of a defeat in parliament. Indeed, according to Marini, a uniform 10% cut in all available tax breaks in France would constitute a considerable source of savings.

Alluding to the need to adopt by the end of 2011 new measures designed to reduce tax breaks in France by around EUR870m, in order to reach the minimum EUR3bn in cuts required for 2012, anchored in the country's 2011-2014 public finance programme law, Marini argued that a general paring down would not only be simple to implement, but would also constitute an immediate source of income, and would not come as a surprise to taxpayers.

Within the framework of France's 2011 finance law, providing for a historic deficit reduction of EUR60bn, the government last year implemented a certain number of tax increases, including a rise in the value-added tax (VAT) rate levied on triple play offers, and reduced certain tax shelters. However, after much deliberation, the government finally ruled out plans to impose a general cut in tax breaks, which currently amount to around EUR75bn.

With the debate currently ongoing, the government has yet to decide whether or not to adhere to a more targeted approach, assessing individual tax breaks on their merit, or to adopt a more general approach. The General Inspectorate of Finance is due to submit its report on the issue to parliament shortly.

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