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At least 53 billion euros for tax loopholes that are little or not at all effective.

Translated Monday 29 August 2011, by Gene Zbikowski and reviewed by Henry Crapo

This is stated in an official report requested by French prime minister François Fillon and drafted by the General Inspection of Finances. A dozen analysts have gone over tax loopholes with a fine comb and their verdict is final.

The 6,000-page report by the General Inspection of Finances, which was obtained by the French daily newspaper Le Figaro, says that of the 470 tax loopholes and the 68 social loopholes in France, 19% are completely useless. They represent an annual tax shortfall of 11.7 billion euros. And another 47% are judged to be little effective, that is to say, a loss of 28 billion euros in tax revenue annually.

One of the main tax loopholes called into question is the 10% reduction in the amount of retirement pensions in the calculation of income tax. The measure costs the government 4.3 billion euros each year, and is no longer adapted. One may also cite the loopholes with relation to French overseas territories and departments (a 4.7-billion-euro shortfall) and the Scellier law. It is to be noted that the report remains prudent as to the 5.5% value added tax in the restaurant trade, and says that it is necessary to check the quality of the jobs that have been created before giving an opinion.

Overall, these are loopholes whose sole purpose is to please the lobbies, and loopholes that are outdated (the loophole on salaries paid to student interns dates back to 1958) that are criticized. As to the most effective tax loopholes, abolishing them would cost 1.1 percent in GDP and the loss of 145,000 jobs over a ten-year period.

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