France’s new president François Hollande earned criticisms from the country’s wealthiest citizens for last year's proposal to tax anyone earning above a million euros 75% of their income. While that law did not pass, the new government’s more socialist-leaning political outlook has resulted in a different policy towards taxes. The severity of the country’s tax laws can be exemplified by a recent case in which French tax authorities slapped a convicted heroin dealer with a charge of 80,000 euros, despite the man’s business being entirely illegal. No one, it appears, is exempt from France’s tax laws.
Since the tax authorities are treating the man, who was sentenced to four years in prison for dealing heroin, as the operator of a small business, they are also allowing him the tax breaks given to other small business owners. According to Forbes, the man was allowed to deduct the cost of the transportation of his heroin, as well as his own consumption of the drug. These costs were calculated by a team of tax inspectors.
“Your personal consumption is estimated at four grams per day, a quantity that must be subtracted,” the inspectors wrote after giving the initial bill, including other decisions such as “Spending linked to the professional use of the vehicle should be deductible,” as the man drove to Belgium in order to conduct his business.
Despite these deductions from the hefty bill, the man is still protesting the fines. His attorney claims that the charges are unjustified.
“They already confiscated 40,000 euros in cash from him along with all of his belongings, which the state will resell. Yet, it is on these earnings that they are asking him to pay taxes: it’s a double penalty!” the lawyer told The Telegraph.
The case of the man is not entirely unsusual, as a law was enacted throughout the country in 2009 making criminal activities that result in revenue taxable in the same way as legitimate businesses. The U.S. has similar laws, but they are generally difficult to enforce given the illicit nature of the activities and the not-so-public record-keeping.