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Home News The PS wants a referendum on the ISF. And why not ?                               Policy         The...

The PS wants a referendum on the ISF. And why not ?                               Policy         The PS loves referendums, especially when things are bad for him.

By Nathalie MP.

A perfume of referendum floats on France. A fragrance of ISF, too. Very compelling scents, obviously, because the two words RIC (Citizen Initiative Referendum) and ISF (Solidarity Tax on Wealth) emerged these days from the bag of Yellow Vests have had the gift of forming an association capable of instantly wake up the very comatose Socialist Party: and if we made a referendum on the restoration of the ISF? I am not against. But I will vote no, of course!

It must be said that the PS loves referendums, especially when it goes bad for him. What's better, when the socialist pedalo is pitching and fragmenting on all sides between its reformers, its slingers and its voters, that tinkering quickly done well a small reconciling and popular consultation around the hair-raising question:

Faced with the right and the extreme right, do you want the unity of the left and the ecologists in the regional elections? (from 2015)

Yes, yes, the PS did organize such a referendum. It was one of the bright ideas of the flamboyant Jean-Christophe Cambadélis of the five-year Holland. Frankly, who on the left would dare to refuse unity when such dangers lie in wait for France? And indeed, the yes won 90% with incredibly high participation for what was a laughable joke.

The PS releases his revolver

And it must also be said that when it comes to touch the ISF, the PS out his revolver. A large measure emblematic of the arrival of the left in power, the Tax on large fortunes (or IGF) was established by Mitterrand in 1982. Deleted by Chirac during the first cohabitation (1986-1988) to bring back the capital, it is restored by Michel Rocard in 1989 under the name, less evocative of the class struggle, of Solidarity Tax on wealth (ISF).

Until the election of Emmanuel Macron, no one on the right nor on the left has risked touching it except via a few punctual adjustments, including the reduction on the valuation of the main residence which has passed from 20% to 30% and the introduction of a tax shield, ie a cap on the overall taxation of taxpayers (which has varied at the discretion of governments).

In 2017, according to the Statistical Book of the General Directorate of Public Finance (DGFIP), the ISF involved 358,000 tax households out of a total of 37.9 million and it brought in 5 billion euros. For comparison, VAT generated 200 billion euros, income tax (which is subject only 43% of tax households) 77.6 billion and corporate tax 66 billion. The ISF is above all the disastrous symbol of the sickly egalitarianism that reigns in France while 10% of tax households already pay 70% of income tax.

Where is solidarity?

Effective January 1, 2018, Emmanuel Macron converted the ISF into Property Tax or IFI. Only real estate remains subject to this wealth tax; all that is liquidity, investment, savings out of the field, this so as not to discourage investment and boost the economic attractiveness of France. The tax levies are thus reduced by approximately 3.2 billion euros.

And it is there that the PS, waking a first time, took out his revolver while being aware with other deputies of left, tendencies Bayrou and LREM included, that the securities exempted in the PLF 2018 also included signs external riches absolutely intolerable. These include 34 luxury sailing yachts, racehorses and gold bars. But where was the "Solidarity" in this country?

Hence a pitiful attempt to rebuild a political health by encouraging the majority of MPs to disassociate from Emmanuel Macron on this topic to join the ranks of the PS. Sparse but welcoming ranks and very supportive of the fortunes of others, especially when they are "rich".

Today, a new opportunity for a start. It is clear to everyone that nothing is better in the majority and that the announcements of the President during his address on December 10 to respond to the revolt of the Yellow vests have not totally convinced. The demand for the restoration of the ISF as a measure of social justice was the first to express itself and was widely reviewed in the press releases and on the banners of the demonstrations.

Similarly, the demand for a better consideration of the aspirations of the sovereign people through the institution of the Citizens' Initiative Referendum or RIC, a bit like the Swiss voting system at the federal or cantonal level, is an element that has made its way and became preponderant in the claims.

[J’aurai certainement l’occasion de revenir sur le RIC. Disons pour l’instant et pour faire vite que dans la mesure où je m’intéresse à tout ce qui produit plus de liberté et de prospérité, un tel référendum convenablement paramétré pour éliminer les propositions guignolesques, respecter la Constitution et respecter la représentation nationale me semble une option très envisageable. Il n’en demeure pas moins que c’est un outil de décision qui ne dit rien sur les décisions qui seront prises par ce biais. Rien ne garantit qu’il débouchera toujours sur une perception politique moins collectivisée de la société.]

RIP rather than RIC

As the RIC does not appear in the Constitution for the moment, the PS proposes to use the referendum of shared initiative (RIP) that was introduced in Article 11 of the Constitution by Nicolas Sarkozy in 2008. In force since 2015 but never used, it stipulates that one-fifth of the members of parliament (185 deputies or senators) supported by one-tenth of the voters registered on the electoral roll (approximately 4.6 million people) can request the holding of a referendum on topics including:

the economic, social or environmental policy of the nation and the public services that contribute to it (…)

The PS has nice game to make this proposal: all polls on the issue show that the French are in favor about 70%. Moreover, if Emmanuel Macron repeated that he would not "unravel" his reform, the assessment of its effects on the way savings are redirected or not to companies has just been advanced by one year, with the risk of obtaining insignificant results after such a short period of operation.

But let's listen to Valérie Rabault, president of the Socialist Group in the National Assembly. According to her, the end of the ISF would have practically turned France into a tax haven! To die of laughter when we know that we are European champions of compulsory levies (first 4 minutes of the video):

It is obvious that this proposal is a pure publicity for the PS and an attempt at least as opportunistic as ideological to bring together a left fragmented and weakened before the Europeans. Even the insubordinate France of Mélenchon lost much of its superb in the intentions of vote, while the RN, also favorable to the return of the ISF, consolidates every day. One way to cut the grass under his feet.

For my part, as I explained recently by suggesting some of the demands for freedom and prosperity of Yellow Vests, I am totally opposed to the restoration of TFR. I would rather plead for its complete abolition, IFI included. Since it represents only 0.5% of compulsory deductions, one wonders whether it is only useful to make such a story.

But in reality, behind the tensions surrounding the ISF, the whole French model is in question.

Debate on taxation to predict

Also, at a time when the country is floating about what it wants and its future, at a time when the government has responded to social discontent with more spending instead of considering a flattening of the taxation and the social model, at a time when political parties of opposition do not hesitate to throw oil on the fire and at a time when a strong demand for citizen decision is emerging, why not put the subject of the ISF in the referendum?

This would be an opportunity for a debate on taxation, the opportunity to advocate for the joint decline of the levies and expenses, the opportunity to suggest that all this is related to our unsustainable social model, the opportunity to underline the weight of the state in all aspects of our lives and the unhealthy dependence it creates, the opportunity to advocate for more responsibility and personal initiative left to civil society.

It would be especially, once all this debate would have taken place, a good way of knowing in which direction the French want to go: towards the restoration of the ISF, symbol of the primacy given to the redistribution and the public expenditure which impoverish us but that the "rich" will pay; or towards its abolition, symbol of the primacy given to production, work, creativity, innovation, with more employment and more purchasing power at the end of the road?

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