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French blue bloods volunteer for tax hike

Aug. 24, 2011 at 3:00 PM

PARIS, Aug. 24 (UPI) -- Sixteen of France's richest citizens said a higher tax for the rich would be acceptable as part of the solution to the country's budget problem.

The list of signers of a letter to the government includes Liliane Bettencourt, the richest woman in France, who was caught up recently in a tax evasion scandal, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

Bettencourt is the heiress connected to the L'Oreal fortune.

The list also includes Jean-Paul Agon, the chairman and chief executive officer of L'Oreal; Christophe de Margerie, CEO of oil company Total; and Frederic Oudea, CEO of Societe Generale, one of the country's largest banks.

"We are aware of the fact that we have benefited from a French model and a European environment which we are attached to and which we want to help preserve," said the letter published in the magazine Nouvel Observateur.

"This tax is not a solution in itself: it must be part of a wider reform of the tax system, encompassing spending as well as tax receipts," the letter said.

Nevertheless, the letter called for an "exceptional levy that would target France's richest taxpayers."

The letter mirrors an editorial written recently by U.S. investor Warren Buffett, one of the world's richest men, who called on Congress to "stop coddling the rich."

Buffet called for the government to "get serious about shared sacrifice" and said many of his "mega-rich" friends would be willing to pay higher taxes while so many others are suffering.

In France, the group of 16 blue-bloods said, "At a time when the government is asking everyone to show solidarity, we feel we must contribute."

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