The runoff did not take place. It’s high time !

Two titles appeared on the same day in the dailies. One noted: “The fortune of billionaires reached records with the Covid-19 pandemic” (“les Echos”, October 7). The other warned: “The Covid-19 pandemic will push up to 150 million people into extreme poverty” (“Le Monde”, October 7). Terrible, their telescoping gives us a clear message: this dirty virus is a powerful factor in accelerating inequalities. And governments have not yet, it seems, taken the measure of this social and political time bomb.

The richer even richer

France is no exception: according to major charities, there are one million additional poor since the Covid, which is added to a total of 9.3 million. In the queues for food aid, nearly half are newcomers: students who have lost their odd jobs, temporary workers, single mothers, Uber drivers, artisans… Meanwhile, the more fortunate see their wealth grow.

It is in this context that France Stratégie (an institution attached to the Prime Minister) published a damning report. To read it, the tax reforms which earned Emmanuel Macron the qualifier of “president of the rich” did not reach their target. The transformation of ISF into IFI (which only relates to real estate) and the establishment of a single flat-rate levy of only 30% on capital income cost the State several billion euros per year , but they had, contrary to the hopes of the government, no effect on investment. The runoff did not take place … or upwards. Recipients of tax breaks pocketed their winnings. And the dividends they receive continued to grow: they even exploded for the richest 0.1%. Including this year. Including in companies receiving state aid.

Faced with the exceptional crisis that the country is going through, let us get out of such a policy, both unjust and fruitless. This must first involve strengthening support for the most disadvantaged. It is not serious, in a recovery plan of 100 billion euros, to devote only 800 million to the most precarious: 0.8%, we are far from “Crazy money”. The boost to beneficiaries of the back-to-school allowance, the lowering of the price of university meal vouchers, the increase in the number of places in nurseries are all in the right direction but are insufficient. The RSA and the activity bonus can be increased, a young RSA can be created… It is the audacity that should carry “act 2” of the poverty plan.

And then, in this trying “world after”, it is time to appeal to the solidarity of the richest. Some, like François Hollande, suggest “an exceptional contribution” on dividends. This will not be enough: a more sustainable strategy must be put in place. The state, which has rightly dug the debt to finance short-time working and guaranteed business loans, will have to repay for years. But who will pay the taxes tomorrow? Households weakened by the crisis? Or those she spared? The government’s initial tax choices no longer make much sense. While inequalities are widening again, it is its duty to put the question of the taxation of heritage and inheritance back on the table, even if it means “Europeanising” the debate. Refusing to open this site for ideological reasons, or so as not to have to reconsider, would be irresponsible.

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