France’s 75 percent income tax proposal is back— and this time with a vengeance. Interestingly, the group most loudly opposed aren’t the denizens of the French Riviera (although they certainly oppose the tax as well), but professional soccer. French soccer clubs have united to protest the mammoth tax, so far refusing to play about twenty games in a round of league matches. “This is a historic decision, made unanimously and with determination, to save soccer,” the French Football Association released in a statement.
French President Hollande campaigned on a 75 percent income tax for individuals making over 1 million euros, riling up the socialist base that ultimately delivered him the presidency. Hollande stayed true to his campaign promises and the 75 percent tax passed. Fortunately, the constitutional court rejected the tax in that it was applied to individuals instead of households. It was a win on a technicality, but a win nonetheless.
Hollande has since tweaked the levy. In its most current form, the 75 percent tax would still apply to salaries over 1 million euros, but it would be paid for by the employer. In this form, experts fear it would be upheld by the courts.
Soccer clubs and fans fear that the tax will prevent them from recruiting top players. But what’s even more threatening to French soccer is that many great—but financially fragile—clubs could be forced to shut down entirely. “There is already a deficit in our sector and now they impose a new tax,” said the president of the players union in France. “Football has a role in society that will be affected as a consequence of these new measures.”
Polls show that over 70 percent of the French think their taxes are ‘excessive’ and 80 percent think Hollande’s tax policies are ‘misguided’ and ‘inefficient’. Hollande’s economic policy is undeniably discouraging the entrepreneurial spirit by punishing success, detrimental to wealth creation and job growth. Soccer may be screaming the loudest, but a 75 percent tax on the wealthy hurts everyone.
Overtaxing the wealthy is not a quintessentially French phenomenon. Wealthy Americans are punished by our progressive tax system as well. Some of our favorite sports teams’ MVPs shell out over half of their incomes to the government. If our tax burden continues to shift to the wealthy as it has in France, American sports will follow suit in their decline.