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Valls strengthens income tax pledge

New bill will free 1.8m households from income tax, while another 1.2m will see levies cut

ABOUT 1.8 million households in France will be exempt from income tax, when a new bill comes into force, Prime Minister Manuel Valls has announced.

In an interview with Europe1 radio nine days before the European elections, Mr Valls said a further 1.2 million households will also see their taxes cut in the new bill to be presented to parliament in June.

It will cost the government in the region of €1bn and will be mostly financed by recouping money from tax evaders.

On Monday, Mr Valls said the bill would take 650,000 households out of income tax, but said the government had decided to strengthen the measure to demonstrate its "commitment".

He said the exemption will benefit single people earning around the minimum wage of €14,000 a year, or couples with two children who have a combined monthly salary of around €3,600.

According to the figures released by the Prime Minister's office, single people will save €300 on the annual tax bill and couple €750.

The French government is faced with the difficult equation of cutting the country's deficits and debt and has pledged massive public spending cuts, after two years of increasing joblessness and taxes while productivity and the economy declined.

Yet the move has proved unpopular, forcing Mr Valls ister to amend his tough stance and grant lower taxes for poorest households.

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