mead cohen berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn
Hollande Sticks it to Les Rosbifs

Wealthy and even comfortably circumstanced Brits tired of their country’s famously dreary weather head to France, where some 200,000 of them have second homes. Those homes are about to get more expensive, thanks to President François Hollande’s plans to raise taxes on foreigners who own property in France. The tax is expected to bring in 7 billion euros, and an additional 2 billion euros will come from those with a net worth of more than one million pounds. This amounts to a near doubling of the current tax rate, and many experts are worried about how this will affect one of France’s more lucrative businesses:

It said this would add €50 million (£40 million) to French revenue this year and €250 million in 2013. Jean-Claude Cassac, the secretary general of the French estate agency federation, in the Dordogne, home to thousands of British expatriates and holiday home owners, said the new move was a “catastrophe”.

“The plummeting pound meant that the English had almost disappeared from the Dordogne house market. With this, it’s as if they want to totally kill off the foreign home owner market in France.”

Hollande probably doesn’t care all that much. The only thing more fun for a French socialist than taxing the rich is taxing the foreign rich. All over America, resort areas tax tourists and out of towners as much as they can; nothing makes a Vermonter happier than an ingenious new way to tax a New York investment banker’s summer home.

Sticking it to the Brits: it’s a favorite French sport whether it’s good economics or not and the new tax should help President Hollande mount even higher in the polls.

Joan of Arc would approve. So would Charles de Gaulle.

Features Icon
show comments
  • cubanbob

    The British Government could if it cared to find a way to withhold it’s contribution to the EU CAP. That way, it’s a win-win for the UK. Brits pull out of France and probably return home or go somewhere friendlier. Hollande gets to deal with angry French farmers and the UK keeps more of its money.

  • Johnb33

    This proof positive that there are people who actually take Paul Krugman’s advice. Let’s see how that works out for them! Good luck France. This does give me a great idea on how to control illegal immigration however. Let them stay, as long as they pay a sur tax, or user fee. Heck, with the blurred definitions of words these days, you could even call it a penalty!!!

  • dearieme

    One of the attractions of France is that French is often the only foreign language that Britons can read or speak – even vague memories of school French let you read public signs and, with some effort, Le Figaro. But increasingly The Young speak English everywhere on the Continent, so that advantage may slip away. Anyway, Britons of retirement age may decide to avoid the new taxes by spending more of the year in France so that they count as residents. That’ll cost the French health service a a pretty penny.

    France may be about to cost itself the proverbial arm and a leg.

  • thibaud

    Tant pis pour les r’s.

  • thibaud

    “one of France’s more lucrative businesses”

    As with the earlier Mead “handbag” jab, this is another mindless little dig that reflects badly on its author, not its intended target.

    Also incoherent. In the same breath, the author describes this as a French particularity and then notes that it’s an American thing as well.

  • Jacksonian Libertarian

    Whatever you tax you get less of.

  • Gary L

    Betram Wooster has announced that he will forego his annual visit to Cannes until the tax is lifted (unless Jeeves tells him otherwise….)

    • Walter Russell Mead

      @Gary L: On the other hand, I believe Anatole the cook is taking out permanent residency papers for the UK, so perhaps the scales balance out after all.

  • The Reticulator

    “Also incoherent. In the same breath, the author describes this as a French particularity and then notes that it’s an American thing as well.”

    Speaking of incoherent, you might try a dictionary if you’re having trouble with words.

  • James C Brown

    Speaking of the taxman, Americans living abroad are subject to the long arm of the IRS. It’s taxation without representation.
    North Korea, Egypt and the Philippines are the only other countries to my knowledge that tax their overseas citizens.

  • dearieme

    A friend has just told us about his office’s day out on Saturday. Twelve of them assembled at Cambridge station to catch the 05:45 a.m. express to King’s Cross. Then they jumped onto the Eurostar to the Gare du Nord. Two of them peeled off to look at Paris and the remainder took the C-line to Versailles. They had a lovely day there before rendezvousing at a brasserie opposite the G de N for a dinner they’d booked on the internet a few days before. A stroll to the train, and they were back at Cambridge station by 10:45 p.m.

    Why trouble to live in France if you can enjoy day trips like that?

  • dearieme
  • Snorri Godhi

    “Britons of retirement age may decide to avoid the new taxes by spending more of the year in France so that they count as residents.”

    Thank you, I was just wondering how a special tax on foreigners from the EU could be legal under EU law. If it’s a tax on non-residents, it’s legal afaik, though I am no lawyer.

    “Why trouble to live in France if you can enjoy day trips like that?”

    Now it’s summer. In winter, English people (being less tough than I am) will want to go to the South of France, and you can’t do that on Eurostar in one day. Maybe by plane.

  • Jules

    If I’m not mistaken this was Hollande’s predecessor’s law, but is only now being implemented.

  • dearieme

    “In winter, English people (being less tough than I am) will want to go to the South of France, …”: Spain beckons, including the Canaries; Cyprus too, and Portugal, including Madeira. Some tough nuts might risk Florida in winter.

    If you don’t mind the shakes, South Island NZ is wonderful in our winter – perhaps Tasmania too.

  • thibaud

    #14 Jules is correct. Mead has once again botched the facts, or else he’s been let down by his research assistants.

    My trusty assistant Monsieur Google reveals that, contrary to yet another screaming Via Meadia headline, the tax on holiday homes was created and pushed through over a year ago, by the Sarkozy administration.

    Britons with French holiday homes face shock new tax increase by Sarkozy
    June 13, 2011

    Note the Best Rated Comments at the Daily mail story – looks like it’s absolutely NOT a French thing to want to impose taxes on wealthy interlopers whose second or third or fourth homes, occupied for not more than a few weeks a year in many cases, push up prices and crowd out young local families wishing to buy homes in their hometowns….

    “Best Rated Comments – Daily Mail:

    “Maybe we could do the same….at least the french appear to have grown something we lost!
    – Rob, Camberley, Surrey, 11/6/2011 16:10

    “Can we have the same sort of tax applied to second homes owned in the Uk. Then perhaps there would be enough homes for young couples to buy at a price they can afford to live and have a familly….
    – Richard, Cheshire, 11/6/2011 13:07

    “[London Mayor] Boris [Johnson] should do the same with the tens of thousands of empty houses and flats, left empty, sometimes for years, by a mixture of very rich and some businesses. In London they are seen as an investment just left empty for years on end. Some luxury flats by the Thames near the big wheel are being secretly used as offices by businesses to avoid taxes, they should be properly taxed. No wonder there’s a housing shortage, with fiddles by the elite and wealthy allowed as the norm.
    – alan, warks, 12/6/2011 1:23

    “Great idea. Why should the poor subsidise the taxes of the rich? In the UK our second home owners get a council tax discount so people who only own one house have to pay more. Let’s have a tax of 50% of the rental value on ALL second homes in the UK whether they are foreign owned or not.
    – The UK is a corporatocracy, Cheshire UK, 12/6/2011 1:33

  • Snorri Godhi

    Oh yes, I prefer the Canaries in winter (Just a week or two, anything more might soften me.) Portugal is nice too, though I am not sure many people go to the beach in winter there.
    Today I am going to the beach here in Estonia. It might be a bit crowded since it’s Saturday.

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2016 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service