Professional Classes Join French Tax Revolt
10 December 2013
Posted by: Author: Lara Marlowe
Author: Lara Marlowe (The Irish Times)
Another group joined France’s rumbling tax revolt
yesterday, when 750,000 members of the National Union of Liberal
Professions (UNAPL) declared themselves "asphyxiated” by taxation and
excessive government regulation.
the professionals, who include doctors, pharmacists, lawyers, notaries,
accountants and architects, have no employees other than themselves. The
remainder make up a million people, for example secretaries and
If the government does not heed its campaign of tracts, petitions and posters, the group’s president Michel Chassang
said its members may take to the streets. Two-thirds of respondents in a
poll last month said they were ready to demonstrate against further tax
"Liberal professions in danger! Mobilise to save the professions of life!” says UNAPL’s petition.
professionals are particularly angry about a 40 per cent increase in
the professional tax, recently rebaptised the CFE. They also fear that
French prime minister Jean-Marc Ayrault’s promised overhaul of the tax
system will be at their expense. Mr Ayrault wants to make the
Generalised Social Contribution (CSG) more progressive and merge it with
"The only justification given is that we have the means to contribute more,” Philippe Bichet, a dental surgeon in Nancy, told Le Figaro.
"They portray us as privileged, which we are not. We’re fed up with all
these taxes. Because we work hard and still manage to make a living,
the government is beating up on us.”
Article 32 of
the law on pension reform puts the liberal professions’ €21 billion
retirement fund under government control. UNAPL fears the money its
members have carefully set aside will be thrown into the "hole” of
France’s social security deficit.
Much of the
private sector resents France’s 5.2 million civil servants, who retire
earlier, with greater benefits. Only a quarter of civil servants’
pensions are financed by their own contributions. Taxpayers finance the
remainder: €37.3 billion this year alone.
Hollande administration fears that multiple small tax revolts could meld
into significant unrest. Some 72 per cent of respondents in a poll last
month said they believed social discontent will lead to a broader
The UNAPL has threatened to
unite with the artisan-shopkeepers’ union UPA, comprised of butchers,
bakers, cheese shop owners and others. Combined, the two sectors claim
to represent a quarter of all jobs in France.
themselves "the sacrificed”, the UPA demonstrated last month against
the VAT increase scheduled for January 1st. Nearly half a million people
have signed its petition against the tax rise. UPA says six local shops
die every hour – 147 each day – in France.
Cats and dogs
national syndicate of cat and dog breeders marched in Paris yesterday,
also to protest against the impending VAT increase, from 7 to 20 per
cent in their profession. They say it will favour the importation of
pets from eastern Europe. A month ago, several thousand owners or
employees of French equestrian centres demonstrated for the same
reason. They claim the tax increase will drive 80,000 horses and ponies
This article first appeared in irishtimes.com.