Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Dog Bites Man: French Push Bad Tax Policy

Since I said something semi-nice about the French a couple of days ago, let me now revert to form and bash French politicians for their reflexive desire to tax and tax and tax again. The first example is from Tax-news.com, which reports that the French government wants to tax Google and other online companies in order to subsidize politically-approved news outlets:

A report presented recently to the French Culture Ministry has proposed a series of measures designed to improve the legitimate supply of cultural services provided over the Internet and their financing, including most notably the introduction of a new tax to be levied on the online advertising revenue derived by Internet giants such as Google. ...In order to finance the proposals, estimated at around EUR50m in 2010, and between EUR35m and EUR40m a year in 2011 and 2012, the report advocates the introduction of a levy imposed on online advertising revenue. Dubbed the “Google tax” by one of the main authors of the report, Jacques Toubon, himself a former French Culture Minister, the levy is designed to support creative industries and online press sites. A threshold level for the tax would ensure that the levy only affects large companies such as Google, Microsoft, AOL, Yahoo, and Facebook.
If the French politicians limited to themselves to raping French citizens, that would be reprehensible, but not exactly a reason for the rest of the world to be upset. Unfortunately, the French government has a misery-loves-company attitude and is always trying to export bad policy to other nations. France, for instance, is a leading supporter of the OECD's anti-tax competition crusade (not surprisingly, the OECD is based in Paris even though the US pays one-fourth of the bureaucracy's bloated budget). Another example is France's campaign to impose an EU-wide carbon tax, which combines the worst aspects of big government, protectionism, and enviro-radicalism. The EU Observer reports:

France intends to push for a tax on carbon emissions across the European Union, President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Wednesday (6 December), a week after his country's top court struck down an attempt to introduce just such a tax domestically. Mr Sarkozy also wants to see carbon "tariffs" slapped on products entering the EU from countries with weaker environmental legislation. ...Any carbon tariff move is likely to meet with stiff resistance from other EU member states, particularly the more free-trade oriented nations, who would view such a levy as a form of protectionism. When an EU carbon tax imposed at the borders of the bloc was first mooted at a meeting of European environment ministers last July, the idea was given a frosty reception, particularly by Germany. ...In response, the French government is to present a re-edited version of the bill on 20 January, taking into consideration the court's objections. On Tuesday, French finance minister Christine Lagarde said that the new law would would involve a progressive tax, with different brackets similar to income taxation.

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