"Like its yellow vests, France, crippled spending constraints, is worried"

Article reserved for subscribers December 6th at Le Mans. JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER / AFPChronic. Tax Jacquerie? Malaise of the modest middle classes? Uprising of the peripheries against big cities? Political, economic and sociological analyzes abound every day to explain France's flaring up with "yellow vests". But what do they want? Mainly less taxes, more purchasing power and more social justice. Three claims that overlap widely, lower taxes providing more purchasing power, all made possible by a more equitable redistribution. It is in this explosive context that the OECD released its annual revenue report on Wednesday 5 December, comparing the tax level of the 34 member countries of the organization in 2017. And the winner is … La France. Last year, the tax burden in our country represented 46.2% of the wealth produced, measured by the gross domestic product (GDP). For the first time in more than thirty years, she beats the usual record holder: Denmark. Although the tax burden has increased in most states for the past ten years, taxes have increased in a far greater proportion in France. The "yellow vests" are therefore right to insist on this subject, rather put forward, in general, by companies and right-wing parties. Especially since this French singularity, which is explained by public spending also well above the average, is largely financed by the most painless tax, but the most unequal: VAT. As shown by a study by Natixis economist Patrick Artus, excluding VAT, the tax burden on households is one point below the euro area average. But by including this tax, the pressure becomes much higher (by 3 points) than this same average. The hoax is unmasked Explanation: VAT alone accounts for half of all levies made by the state, far in front of income tax (27% in 2018). To balance the accounts as discreetly as possible, successive governments since the war have preferred to exclude more than half of French households from income tax (57% in 2017) and tax consumption, so the purchasing power. The deception is unmasked, hence the call for a tax rebate that each presidential candidate promises and buries once in power. Because the problem is that the main way to reduce taxes is to find savings elsewhere, so in public spending. The biggest posts France spends more than her neighbors are pensions, health, education, housing, military spending and support for the economy. Not to mention the debt service, whose only interest costs more than 40 billion each year – almost a third of VAT revenues. France is finally in the image of its "yellow vests": crippled constraints, worried for the future and without a clear vision on how to get out.

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