Segolene Royal dodges wealth tax

7th March 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, March 6, 2007 (AFP) - French Socialist presidential candidate Segolene Royal undervalued her property portfolio to avoid paying wealth taxes, according to a French newspaper report to appear Wednesday.

PARIS, March 6, 2007 (AFP) - French Socialist presidential candidate Segolene Royal undervalued her property portfolio to avoid paying wealth taxes, according to a French newspaper report to appear Wednesday.

Speaking on French television, Royal denied the accusation of tax fraud, although she admitted that one of her properties -- a villa in the Riviera town of Mougins -- "may be worth more than the accountant's estimate."

"I wish to say that our assets were valued by an accountant, and that no fraud took place over our wealth tax return," she said.

According to the satirical weekly Le Canard Enchaine, Royal and her partner of 25 years, Socialist leader Francois Hollande, should have paid seven times more wealth tax than the 862 euros (1,130 dollars) they settled in 2006.

The couple's villa in Mougins, one of their three properties, was declared in their tax return as being worth 270,000 euros, when its true value -- according to local property statistics -- is closer to 700,000 euros, the paper said.

It also claimed that Royal and Hollande had undervalued their main property, an apartment in the chic Paris suburb of Boulogne, declared as being worth 750,000 euros, less than its purchase price in 1990 of 876,000 euros.

According to local estate agents, by 2005 the flat was already worth closer to 1.2 million euros.

"Sat on such a cushion, the candidate and her partner should have paid more than 6,000 euros in solidarity tax on wealth," which kicks in on assets worth 750,000 euros or more, the paper said.

Royal told France 3 television she "trusts the fiscal authorities... If they thought the declaration did not reflect the assets' true value, they would have carried out an adjustment," she said.

She said she had "acquired a certain number of assets, with my salary and only my salary" and that she, "unlike the other candiates" had made her full property portfolio public.

Royal and Hollande, the father of her four children, were forced in January to deny claims circulating on the Internet that they had used a legal device to avoid paying wealth tax.

Hollande filed suit for libel after a deputy from the ruling Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) repeated the allegation, and Royal issued a statement saying that they did indeed pay a small amount in wealth tax as their combined fortune adds up to more than the 750,000 euro threshold.

"I am comfortably off, so I consider it normal to pay wealth tax. I cannot allow myself to be accused of tax fraud. That is scandalous," she told French radio at the time.

Le Canard Enchaine reported last week that Royal's right-wing rival Nicolas Sarkozy was given a discount of some 300,000 euros on the purchase of a flat in the affluent Paris suburb of Neuilly, of which he was mayor at the time. Sarkozy has denied the accusation.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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