This paper is excerpted from the forthcoming “IREF’s Yearbook on Taxation” 2012
In view of the great fragility of French public finances, all the candidates to the April 2012 Presidential elections have felt the necessity to explain their strategy to put the country back on track, if elected. As a result, fiscal policy has attracted more public attention than rarely ever in the past. Although propositions seem to vary substantially from one candidate to the other, standing back they pretty much come down to the same two-tier plan: (1) cut some taxes here and raise some there so that the net balance is zero and (2) cut some public expenses here and increase some there so that net balance is zero or slightly positive (small reduction in public deficit). In short, no substantial reform, neither in the field of taxation or in the field of public expenditures, is to be expected. This, some say, is justified by the desire to save the country from recession (GDP is expected to stagnate during the first quarter of 2012 and to grow by 0.2% in the second quarter). Keynesianism is still popular there: A strategy that displays a great deal of stubbornness if we recall that France has already one of the highest levels of public expenditures in the world.