PARIS — Embattled French President Francois Hollande suffered a fresh setback Saturday when France's highest court threw out a plan to tax the ultrawealthy at a 75 percent rate, saying it was unfair.
In a stinging rebuke to one of Socialist Hollande's flagship campaign promises, the constitutional council ruled Saturday that the way the highly contentious tax was designed was unconstitutional. It was intended to hit incomes over (EURO)1 million ($1.32 million).
The largely symbolic measure would have only hit a tiny number of taxpayers and brought in an estimated (EURO)100 million to (EURO)300 million - an insignificant amount in the context of France's roughtly (EURO)85 billion deficit.
Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault was quick to respond, saying in a statement following the decision the government would resubmit the measure to take the court's concerns into account. The court's ruling took issue not with the size of the tax, but with the way it discriminated between households depending on how incomes were distributed among its members. A household with two earners each making under (EURO)1 million would be exempt from the tax, while one with one earner making (EURO)1.2 million would have to pay.
The French government approved the tax in its most recent budget, amid criticism by some that it would do little to stem the country's mounting fiscal problems and would drive away the wealthiest citizens. Hollande's popularity, meanwhile, has been tanking as the country's unemployment continued its rise for the 19th straight month.
In recent weeks, Gerard Depardieu – France's most famous actor – announced his intention to turn in his French passport and move to a village in a tax-friendly Belgium.
Also on HuffPost:
Stephen Feinberg, Cerberus Capital CEO
Stephen Feinberg is CEO of Cerberus Capital Management, the private equity firm that <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/16/school-shooter-adam-lanza_n_2312818.html">owns Freedom Group</a>, <a href="http://www.freedom-group.com/">the country's largest gun manufacturer</a> and owner of the Bushmaster brand. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/18/cerberus-capital-freedom-group-gun-manufacturer_n_2321258.html?1355834061">Cerberus announced on Tuesday</a> that it plans to sell its stake in Freedom Group. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/16/school-shooter-adam-lanza_n_2312818.html">Adam Lanza</a>, 20, used a Bushmaster rifle to murder 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., on Friday.
Wayne LaPierre, National Rifle Association CEO
<a href="http://meetthenra.org/nra-member/Wayne%20LaPierre">Wayne LaPierre</a> is executive vice president and CEO of the National Rifle Association (NRA), the gun industry's top lobbying organization.
George Kollitides, Freedom Group CEO
<a href="http://georgekollitides.com/">George Kollitides</a> <a href="http://www.freedom-group.com/press.htm">is CEO</a> of <a href="http://www.freedom-group.com/">Freedom Group</a>, the country's largest gun manufacturer, which owns Bushmaster.
P. James Debney, Smith & Wesson CEO
<a href="http://ir.smith-wesson.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=90977&p=irol-govmanage">P. James Debney</a> is president and CEO of Smith & Wesson, a major U.S. gun manufacturer.
William M. Keys, Colt's CEO
Lt. General <a href="http://www.coltsmfg.com/Company/History.aspx">William M. Keys</a> has served as <a href="http://investing.businessweek.com/research/stocks/private/people.asp?privcapId=30194079">CEO</a> of Colt's Manufacturing Company, a major gun manufacturer, since 1999.
C. Michael Jacobi, Sturm, Ruger & Co. Chairman
<a href="http://www.ruger.com/corporate/S-BOD-Jacobi.html">C. Michael Jacobi</a> is chairman of <a href="http://www.ruger.com/corporate/BOD.html">Sturm, Ruger, & Co.</a>, a major gun manufacturer.
Walter McLallen, Marlin Firearms Chairman
<a href="http://www.marlinfirearms.com/News/press.asp">Walter McLallen</a> is chairman of Marlin Firearms, a major gun manufacturer, which is owned by Freedom Group.
John DeSantis, Bushmaster Firearms President*
<a href="http://www.bushmaster.com/press-release-071410.asp">John DeSantis is apparently still president of Bushmaster Firearms</a>, which is owned by Freedom Group. *Though the company announced his intention to resign in 2010, it has not publicly named a successor and would not return HuffPost's request for comment.