Two-thirds of French people want to keep wealth tax

Popularity of the wealth tax in France is split according to political stance

Fillon wants to get rid of it, Macron wants to amend it. But ISF remains popular among the French people

Two-thirds of French people reject calls to abolish the wealth tax, as proposed by Presidential candidate François Fillon.

The same poll found more than three-quarters feel the ISF (impôt de solidarité sur la fortune) encourages France’s wealthiest and its entrepreneurs to move abroad – while 83% also believe "the ISF is avoided by the really rich people who manage to escape from it".

Study after study shows the ISF is one of the rare French taxes that gets most people’s backing. Last October, 72% of those polled said they wanted the ISF to be maintained, slightly higher than the 66% in favour now.

Opinion on the ISF is clearly divided by political persuasion: the rate climbs to 83% when respondents say they are left-wing sympathizers and falls to 37% for right-wing voters, who are even more likely than in October to want to see this tax disappear (62%).

Current election favourite, centre-leftist En Marche! candidate Emmanuel Macron, says he does not want to remove the ISF, but reduce it to include only real estate and exclude financial inheritance - a measure that is also approved by the majority of those polled.

Moreover, only 51% of French people believe Mr Fillon would actually eliminate the ISF if elected (66% in the case of right-wing voters).

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In the 2016 poll, 30% of French people were even in favour of increasing the ISF, a measure backed today by Jean-Luc Mélenchon of far-left party Unsubmissive France. The Parti Socialiste candidate, Benoît Hamon, wants to create a tax on net assets that would merge the ISF and taxe foncière.

In the latest poll, of 1,006 people by Odexa for Les Echos and Radio Classique, respondents seem to give more credit to Mr Macron's tax policy than those of other candidates, with 53% of them agreeing with En Marche's proposal.

Although 86% believe the rich avoid the tax, revenue figures suggest otherwise: the ISF brings more and more money to the French State. From 1998 to 2015, the number of taxpayers liable increased from 192,734 to 342,942, while revenues jumped from €1.7billion to €5.2bn – about 1.7% of total tax revenue.

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