24th August 2011
The list includes L'Oréal heiress Liliane Bettencourt, and follows a similar call from billionaire Warren Buffett a week ago. He was in the news as criticising the fact that his tax rate was lower than many of those who worked for him.
Along with these big names, Christophe de Margerie, head of oil major Total and a member of the wealthy Taittinger family, and Maurice Lévy, head of Publicis, the marketing services group, are among 16 executives and wealthy French investors to have signed a petition.
"We are aware that we have benefited fully from a French model and European environment to which we are attached and that we want to help to preserve," the signatories said in the weekly news magazine Nouvel Observateur.
"At a time when the public deficit and the prospect of an aggravation of public debt threaten the future of France and Europe … it seems necessary that we contribute."
But a week after Buffett first cried "tax me" what is the reaction to this and will it work? There have been opinions flying around the web on this subject…
According to the Washington Post, taxing the rich can be fairly done – and would raise revenue.
A Wall Street Journal Blog comments: "In France, they may well get their wish. Unlike the U.S., where Warren Buffett's Tax Pledge calling for higher taxes on millionaires and billionaires was met with stiff opposition from Republicans, France is leaning toward raising its already high taxes on the wealthy."
This is despite another blog commenting that online readers of the Wall Street Journal agree with Buffetts' plan to tax the rich. "Warren Buffett's self-flagellating op-ed in the New York Times, in which he called for higher taxes on billionaires like him, has become a huge hit on the web. Buffett is now trending on Twitter and the piece has been passed around Facebook like crazy."
eccentricdlite wrote on the blog: Warren Buffett is absolutely right. The poorest 1/2 of the country only owns 2.5 % of the country's assets so we can't get much revenue from them. To make a dent in the deficit wealthier citizens need to contribute more revenue on a percentage basis. Of course, this needs to be done while ensuring government waste is reduced."
But aren't the world's wealthy ruled by their billions – so why would they call for increased tax?
Mindful Money resident psychologist Kim Stephenson comments on why Buffett is a genius – money is his servant, not his master.
He says: "He's got billions. He could buy pretty much anything he wanted, never mind planes and yachts, he could buy countries, probably planets.
"He still lives in the modest house he's lived in for years and drives a modest car.
"His children are comfortable, but they know they aren't going to be left billions of dollars when he dies and they are perfectly happy with that and well adjusted.
"He works because he likes what he does, he's good at it, and it gives him satisfaction. If he didn't like it any more, he wouldn't do it.
"His money is his servant."
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