This is one of the rare subjects of economic policy on which Emmanuel Macron dithers. Should we increase taxation on inheritance, on the grounds that the current system perpetuates birth inequalities, or stay away from the subject, a red line for most French people, including modest ones? Reopened several times by the majority, repeatedly carried by economists, the debate has punctuated the five-year term.
It all starts in 2016. « If we have a preference for risk over annuity, which is my case, we must prefer taxation on the estate to taxes of the ISF type [impôt sur la fortune] », declares the one who is then Minister of the Economy of François Hollande. But, in 2017, the candidate of En Marche! dismiss the subject. Too politically sensitive, it does not appear among the campaign promises.
In September 2018, Christophe Castaner, general delegate of La République en Marche (LRM), declared that he wanted to lead « an uninhibited reflection » for « fight against birth inequalities » and supports the idea of increasing inheritance tax. End of inadmissibility of the Elysée where there is no question of fueling the « tax fed up »: the Head of State has barely emerged from a controversy over the rise in the CSG, during from which he has already alienated some of the retirees. In December 2018, the Terra Nova Institute returned to the charge, proposing to increase the yield of inheritance tax by 25% by reforming the scale. The key is a gain of 3 billion euros, more or less the shortfall from the abolition of the ISF.
Cover the tracks
In March 2019, Stanislas Guerini, boss of LRM, wants to make a contribution to the great national debate opened following the crisis of « yellow vests ». The idea: to increase the taxation of inheritances on large estates, while facilitating donations between the living. Again, the initiative is cut short: after all, it is the tax issue that brought down the protesters on the roundabouts.
At the start of 2021, Bruno Le Maire is proposing a reduction in inheritance tax. Wishing to unlock the savings accumulated by households during the health crisis, the Minister of the Economy wishes to promote intergenerational transmissions (donations between parents and children or between grandparents and grandchildren). “That would seem fair to me. Young people are the ones who have toasted the most in this crisis,” he says. He won’t win either.
The reform of inheritance and gift taxes is also one of the main proposals of the Blanchard-Tirole report, submitted in June 2021 to the Head of State. Economists Jean Tirole and Olivier Blanchard argue for a tax at increasing rates on all cumulative amounts received during life, with a high allowance, in order to allow the middle class to pass on wealth to their children tax-free . The report of the Economic Analysis Council, in December 2021, puts a coin in the machine.
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