Tue, Jan 01, 2019 - Page 10 News List

Macron plans to curb tax avoidance as protests ease

Bloomberg

“Yellow vest” protesters protect themselves on the sidelines of a demonstration on Saturday in Bordeaux, France.

Photo: AFP

French President Emmanuel Macron’s government is cracking down on executives who avoid paying taxes in France as part of efforts to quell “yellow vest” protesters.

The French government is scrutinizing the tax situation of business leaders and plans to take measures to force them to pay their taxes in France if necessary, French Minister of Public Action and Accounts Gerald Darmanin told Le Journal du Dimanche.

“Heads of listed businesses or businesses in which the state has a stake must absolutely be French tax residents,” Darmanin said.

The increased tax scrutiny is Macron’s latest effort to rope in businesses to respond to the protesters’ anger over inequality and the high cost of living. Alongside tax cuts for low-income households, Macron has also urged companies to pay special year-end bonuses to rank-and-file employees.

The government has resisted demands from many protesters to reinstate the wealth tax, which Macron abolished when he became president.

Darmanin said efforts to make executives pay tax in France should encourage more “civic” behavior, but making all executives pay tax in the country would not be simple as it could require renegotiating tax conventions.

“It would take years and we aren’t necessarily in a position of force to impose our views,” wealth advisory firm Equance head Olivier Grenon-Andrieu told Le Journal du Dimanche.

There are signs that the “yellow vest” movement could be losing steam.

The seventh Saturday of protests in the capital drew only 800 people to “sporadic” gatherings, Paris police said.

Some protesters have said they would take to the streets again yesterday amid New Year’s Eve celebrations, when Macron is expected to deliver an address to the nation.

French police forces are deploying extra means to secure public spaces for the New Year’s celebrations.

Police are to establish a perimeter around the Champs-Elysees in Paris and take steps to secure retail centers, public spaces and transport networks, the French Ministry of the Interior said in a statement on Sunday.

Almost 148,000 police officers and soldiers were to be mobilized in France yesterday evening, it said.

As tax cuts for households come into effect this month, Macron has also promised a national debate on democracy and public spending. The government hopes this would calm the protests and rebuild trust in the country’s institutions.

“The president has called for a big debate, and that’s a very good thing,” Darmanin said.

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