SIXTEEN of France's wealthiest business people, including the country's richest woman Liliane Bettencourt, have urged the government to tax them more.
The letter, published in the Nouvel Observateur, backs the idea of "an exceptional levy that would target France's richest taxpayers".
Among the signatories are the chief executives of Société Générale, Total, Publicis, PSA Peugeot-Citroën and Accor, and the chairmen of Danone, France Télécom and Volvo.
They wrote: "At a time when rising public debt and deficits are threatening France's and Europe's future, and when the government is asking everyone to show solidarity, we feel we must contribute.
"This tax is not a solution in itself: it must be part of a wider reform of the tax system."
The French government will outline a new series of measures aimed at cutting the country's budget deficit later today.
President Sarkozy has asked finance minister François Baroin and budget minister Valérie Pécresse to look at tax reforms, including the scrapping of a number of tax breaks (niches fiscales).
A new levy of 1% or 2% on high earners is being considered. It could apply to the 30,000 French residents whose total assessable income after allowances (revenu fiscal de référence) exceeds €1m a year.
France recently scrapped its bouclier fiscal tax cap, which limited an individual's personal tax burden to 50% of their total income. The government has also increased the threshold above which a household has to pay wealth tax.