Economy

France backs global minimum tax on billionaires at G20

FILE PHOTO: France’s Minister of Economy and Finance Bruno Le Maire talks to the press during the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Banks Governors meeting, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, February 28, 2024. REUTERS/Carla Carniel/File Photo

PARIS (Reuters) – France wants a new push for a global minimum tax on the super-rich, building on the success of a 15% minimum on multinationals taking effect this year, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Wednesday.

“Currently the richest people can avoid paying the same level of tax as other people who are less rich. We want to avoid such tax optimisation,” Le Maire said on the sidelines of meetings with G20 counterparts in Sao Paulo.

A study in October from the EU Tax Observatory, a research group, said that a global minimum tax on billionaires could raise $250 billion annually, equivalent to 2% of the nearly $13 trillion in wealth owned by 2,700 billionaires globally.

Currently, billionaires’ effective personal tax is often far less than what other taxpayers of more modest means pay because they can register assets in shell companies protecting them from income tax, the group said.

“We want Europe to take this idea of minimum taxation of individuals forward as quickly as possible, and France will be at the forefront,” Le Maire said.

He said it only made sense to crack down on tax optimisation by the super-wealthy at the international level in line with what has been achieved with the global minimum corporate tax.

More than 140 countries have so far backed a 2021 agreement to apply a corporate income tax of at least 15% from this year to discourage multinational groups from shopping around for countries with the lowest taxes.

Brazilian Finance Minister Fernando Haddad said ahead of the meeting in Sao Paulo that Brazil would use its G20 presidency to initiate discussions on international measures to discourage the super-rich from using tax havens.

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