It’s hard to choose a more political title. “What taxes do billionaires pay? », ask four economists from the Institute of Public Policy, attached to the Paris School of Economics, in a long-awaited note published on Tuesday, June 6. After months of contradictory debates, the conclusion is clear: for very wealthy households, the tax is regressive. The effective rate paid by the wealthiest 0.1% decreases as one climbs the income scale, dropping from 46% at the entry of this population to 26% for the 75 households at the top of the income scale. pyramid. A table that promises to relaunch the debate, never really closed, on the taxation of the capital of very high incomes, in a context of strained public finances and while the executive is looking for resources to finance the ecological transition.
This observation had already been made empirically. But, for the first time, it is supported by data from the tax administration. The authors of the study – Laurent Bach, Antoine Bozio, Arthur Guillouzouic and Clément Malgouyres – had access to a great deal of information from Bercy to carry out their work. This data enabled them to reconcile the tax declarations made by the companies with those of their shareholders, at least the natural persons who, in France, hold the capital. Economists were then able to construct an “economic income” of the wealthiest households, larger than just the tax income declared to the tax authorities, to which they relate the tax paid.
The data to which the authors had access dates from 2016 and therefore predates Emmanuel Macron’s reforms – abolition of wealth tax (ISF), introduction of the “flat tax” on capital income, reduction the corporate tax rate. Even if they agree that it is “unlikely they increased the effective tax rate”, the authors were unable to study the effects. The data was indeed collected by an independent secure center, responsible for anonymizing it, then linking that of the companies to that of their shareholders – “a painstaking job”, according to the authors, who nevertheless hope to renew the exercise.
The “economic income” taken into account
“The tax slip of the richest does not reflect all the income they have, explain to World Laurent Bach and Arthur Guillouzouic. Our work consisted of adding to their declared income the undistributed profits of companies that they hold more than 10%, and therefore over which there is a form of control. » This “economic income” thus takes into account income that is currently unaccounted for, such as profits retained by companies in which individuals are shareholders. These can be profits banked, or housed in offshore entities – choices over which the shareholders who control the company can weigh, say the authors.
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