Monday 7 May 2012 11:16 pm

London calling as French set to flee tax attack

LONDON is set to be a winner from the predicted exodus of high earners from France, after socialist Francois Hollande swept to power. Experts have said Britain is best-placed to benefit while mayor Boris Johnson has urged French finance workers to come here if President-elect Hollande goes through with his plan to set a tax rate of 75 per cent on income above €1m (£806m). Around 400,000 French expatriates live in Britain, with areas of London such as South Kensington – sometimes called Paris’s 21st arrondissement – proving popular. Ashley Crossley, chair of Europe and Middle East wealth management at law firm Baker & McKenzie, said the firm had received enquiries in recent weeks from French nationals “very concerned” about the effect of a Hollande victory but they may come to Britain because of its rules covering non-domiciled workers. “The non-dom legislation is very attractive… London is pretty unique in Europe in terms of providing that kind of incentive.” George Bull, senior tax partner at Baker Tilly, said more French workers would come to London but they would also take into account issues such as quality of life and the upheaval on their family. “The effect [on Britain’s Exchequer] will be slight but London will be in pole position to benefit.” Johnson, re-elected as mayor last week, recently issued a direct appeal to French finance workers alarmed at the prospect of new taxes. “Bienvenue à Londres. This is the global capital of finance. It’s on your doorstep and if your own President does not want the jobs, the opportunities and the economic growth that you generate, we do,” he said. A series of British and foreign banks have cut their City staff numbers and salaries as the Eurozone’s financial woes hammer their profits. Hollande wants to eliminate the French deficit by 2017 while investing in jobs and junior schooling. He aims to find €100bn of savings over the next five years, half from new revenues, mainly tax, and half from limiting nominal growth in public spending to 1.1 per cent per year. Earlier in the campaign Hollande told French voters: “My real enemy doesn’t have a name, or a face, or a party… although he does govern. My enemy is the world of finance.”

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