Louvre, Versailles Palace weigh in on French art tax row

Tue Oct 16, 2012 9:27am EDT
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PARIS (Reuters) - Top Paris art galleries and the Palace of Versailles have weighed in against an unpopular push to extend wealth tax to art, complaining in a letter to the government that such a move could drive historic collections out of France.

The daily Liberation printed an excerpt from a letter it said was signed by the heads of the Louvre, Versailles, the Musee d'Orsay, the Pompidou Centre and others and sent to the culture minister and President Francois Hollande, saying the tax would crush the art world.

"There's a risk that France will contribute to the disappearance of historic collections that have been passed down through the generations," Liberation quoted the letter, written on Friday and also signed by several city mayors, as saying.

Spokespeople for the various art galleries could not be reached for comment.

Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault appeared to sound the death knell on Tuesday for the push for art works worth over 50,000 euros ($64,700) to be included in assets used to calculate a person's fortune, saying the Socialist government opposed it.

"Artworks will not be included in the calculation of wealth tax. That's the government's position," he told Europe 1 radio.

Budget Minister Jerome Cahuzac cautioned that the proposal was not buried yet.

"We will have a frank discussion with the Socialist group. It is possible for a government to be beaten by its parliamentary majority," he told France Inter radio.

Currently, only assets like real estate or cash savings count towards wealth tax. Net assets of more than 1.3 million euros are taxed at 0.25 percent on top of income tax, and the rate doubles to 0.5 percent for assets above 3 million euros.   Continued...