NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


June 30, 2008

While wealthy French citizens frequently move abroad to escape their country\'s confiscatory taxes, Americans do not have that option: the United States is the only industrialized country that taxes its people even if they live overseas, says the Wall Street Journal. 

That hasn't been a big problem as long as U.S. tax rates have been relatively low.  But with Barack Obama promising to lift rates to French-like levels, this taxman-cometh policy could turn Americans into the world's foremost fiscal prisoners, says the Journal:

  • Sen. Obama plans to raise income, Social Security and capital gains taxes.
  • The top marginal tax rate, including federal, state and local levies, could approach 60 percent for self-employed New Yorkers and Californians.
  • Not even France's taxes are that high now that President Nicolas Sarkozy has capped the total that high-earning Frenchmen can pay in income, social and wealth taxes at 50 percent of earnings.

Sarkozy set this "fiscal shield" because he knows that tax rates affect behavior, says the Journal.  When he visited London this year, he observed that the British capital is now home to so many French bankers and other professionals seeking tax relief that it's the seventh-largest French city.  Those expatriates choose not to use their creativity and investment capital to benefit France and its economy.

Sen. Obama's plans to raise income, Social Security and capital gains taxes amount to a belief that people don't react to punitive tax rates, says the Journal.  If Obama plans to make Americans pay French-style tax rates, he should allow Americans to pay taxes in whichever part of the globe they choose to live in and give them the same right to move as French citizens. 

Source: "Monsieur Obama's Tax Rates," Wall Street Journal, June 27, 2008.

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