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Capital Taxation and Households Behaviours: an International Comparison

Isabelle BENOTEAU * DG Trésor. Contact : Isabelle.benoteau@dgtresor.gouv.fr.
Olivier MESLIN ** Insee. Contact : olivier.meslin@insee.fr. Cet article reprend partiellement le contenu d'un rapport préparé par les auteurs en 2017 pour le Conseil des prélèvements obligatoires. Ce rapport est consultable sur le site internet de la Cour des comptes.


The taxation of capital plays, among other factors, an important role in the composition of households' savings, be it their real estate investments or their financial portfolio. It thus constitutes an important public policy instrument, with major effects on households' welfare, but also on the real economy's access to capital, financial stability and public finance. This article contributes to the analysis of French capital taxation in two respects: first by summarizing the main arguments of the debate on the taxation of capital and its impact on households' saving and investment behavior, and second by comparing capital taxation systems across advanced economies. This approach highlights both the common features between France and its partners (notably the incentives for owner-occupancy) and the specific features of French taxation (such as the high level of gift and inheritance taxes). The most singular feature of the French capital taxation appears to be the unusual complexity of the taxation of savings, and in particular the large number of tax-favored instruments (regulated saving accounts, life insurance...), a practice much less common in other countries.


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