The idea of superprofit taxation is resurfacing. The proposal, first put forward by the deputies of Nupes and RN, now takes the form of two amendments to the finance bill 2023, debated since Monday, October 10 at the National Assembly. The two texts submitted by the government by Elisabeth Borne aim to transcribe in France the European agreement on the contribution of energy companies.
In detail, the First Amendment caps production income electricity producers, following the decision of the EU Member States which considered that these companies benefited full throttle of inflation. The second provides for the creation of“a temporary solidarity contribution” oil, coal, refining and gas companies. This contribution, the rate of which is set at 33%, would affect companies whose taxable income exceeds the average of the last four years by 20%. “These are the rents we want to tackle”explains on franceinfo the Minister of Economy, Bruno the Mayor.
“I don’t want there to be energy companies, whether they’re called EDF, Total or Engie, who can take advantage of the situation.”Bruno Le Maire, Minister of the Economy
The First Amendment “represents 26 billion euros”that is “more than half of our shield [tarifaire]it is considerable”, assures Bruno Le Maire. On the other hand, the temporary solidarity contribution should allow much more modest gains, of the order of “200 million euros”still according to the tenant of Bercy.
In opposition, reactions are mixed. Republicans will support the government’s amendments, while proposing to extend taxation to shipping companies. “We agree with the government’s position not to take measures that would penalize our companies compared to our European neighbors”explained during a press briefing Olivier Marleix, president of the LR group.
“It’s always better than nothing, it’s a step, but it’s not enough”reacts for his part the deputy RN Jean-Philippe Tanguy. “We will vote for it if we don’t have anything better. But by dint of pressure, in particular from public opinion, the government realizes that there are abnormal situations. But hey, it’s going to bring in 200 million euros, it’s a cosmetic operation.”
“The reality is that the government does not want to tax the CAC 40.”Jean-Philippe Tanguy, deputy RN
The RN proposes for its part to tax multinationals which achieve more than 100 million euros in turnover in France and which have recorded 20% more profits compared to 2019.
The left is also skeptical about the government’s concessions. “Everyone knows very well that this amendment is far too limiting, because it does not concern all the sectors in which there have been exceptional profits”confides to franceinfo the deputy LFI Manuel Bompard. “It’s a good thing that Bruno Le Maire is changing his mind, but I consider that it is largely insufficient. Other amendments have been proposed for a real taxation of superprofits.”
The LFI deputies are nevertheless pleased to see the subject emerge in the debate after having raised it for months. “The government clearly sees that the question of superprofits shocks the French, continues the rebellious Antoine Léaument. But we had proposed taxing all the superprofits, it’s not just the energy companies. The government is creating a small shield around these companies to protect all the others.”
With these amendments, the government is reacting to double pressure from Europe and public opinion, according to several parliamentarians. “The government is starting to seriously petolate. Refineries are blocked, oil depots are blocked…” observes Antoine Léaument. “We can imagine that the government is doing this in reaction to what is happening in the country: strike movements, blockades, calls to demonstrate on Sunday… These are signals that must be taken into account, especially with an opposition that intends to hit hard on these subjects”admits a majority parliamentarian.
The parliamentarians of the majority do not take a dim view of the return of the debate on superprofits. “This is a subject that has preoccupied the majority for a long time, and which is not unique to Nupesassures LREM deputy Thomas Rudigoz. It is normal that large multinationals also make efforts and there was also an expectation in the majority compared to what is happening in other European countries.
“More than saying tax for tax, we want to recover this exceptional financial windfall”, explains for her part the deputy LREM Prisca Thevenot. But it refutes the idea of an ideological victory for the left. “If you take their statement correctly, they want to tax to tax everyone. But to do what?” The opposition parties will attempt to answer this question when examining the amendments tabled to the draft budget.