France calls for global minimum tax on super-rich

A global minimum tax on billionaires could raise $250 billion a year, a recent study discovered

France's Minister for Economy and Finance, Bruno Le Maire, in Brazil on February 28. AFP
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France has called for a renewed push for the super-rich to pay a global minimum tax, building on the success of a 15 per cent 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," Mr Le Maire said on the sidelines of G20 ministerial meetings in Sao Paulo.

A global minimum tax on billionaires could raise $250 billion annually, equal to 2 per cent of the nearly $13 trillion in wealth owned by 2,700 billionaires around the world, a recent study by the EU Tax Observatory showed.

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," Mr 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 per cent from this year to discourage multinational groups from shopping around for countries with the lowest taxes.

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

Updated: February 28, 2024, 11:43 PM