Sarkozy promises to crack down on corporate tax as he trails in the polls

FRENCH President Nicolas Sarkozy said yesterday that if re-elected he would propose a minimum tax on the profits of big listed companies, which could raise €2bn to €3bn (£1.67bn to £2.5bn) in a year to go towards cutting the public deficit.

As the latest poll showed Sarkozy trailing further behind Socialist presidential candidate Francois Hollande, he said: “We are going to create a tax on minimum profits for big companies in France, companies in the CAC 40, because I have discovered something which is not normal, it's that these big companies maximise their tax benefits and some of them do not pay tax at all.”

The conservative leader told a TV debate that he would propose the measure in the 2013 budget.

Sarkozy has been criticised on the left for changes to the tax system that favour companies and the wealthy.

He told France 2 television that the minimum tax would target international companies like oil group Total.

A poll by CSA yesterday showed Hollande getting 30 per cent support in the first round of a two-round election, up two percentage points, while Sarkozy gained one point to 28 per cent.

In the decisive final round of voting on 6 May, Hollande was seen retaining a wide lead over Sarkozy, beating him by 54 per cent to 46 per cent, unchanged from the previous month.

Marine Le Pen, head of the far-right National Front, fell two percentage points to 15 per cent support in the first round of voting.