Special Diets

Special tax return. Sweeping, pylons, photocopiers, meat… what are the hidden taxes you pay every day?

meat purchase tax

Levied only on meat produced in France, the tax on meat purchases was implemented in 1997, in the aftermath of the mad cow scandal. It is donated to the livestock office, financing the public rendering service and the elimination of animal meal. Some cooperatives, such as that of Lamballe in Brittany, want to get out of this system, wishing to process the carcasses of dead animals on their farms themselves in order to transform them into biofuels, thus participating in the decarbonization of their production.

To this tax could be added in a few years an increase in VAT, the European Parliament wishing to encourage us to consume better by increasing the VAT of the products less good for our health and for the environment. Less meat and more fruit and vegetables, this is the objective of many MEPs.

Mineral water tax

It was in 1920 that a surcharge was created on mineral water (spring water being excluded), which was to allow spa towns to finance the additional cost of the presence of a large number of spa guests in their town. This optional tax is paid by mineral water companies and only applies to bottled water sold in the domestic market.

Thus bottles intended for export as well as unpackaged mineral water intended for curists escape taxation. The tax which today is called “local contribution on mineral water” almost disappeared in 2019, but, taking into account the financing constraints of local authorities, the government preferred to preserve this tax which in 2014 brought in 21 millions of euros.


cinema ticket tax

The National Center for Cinema and the Moving Image (CNC), which depends directly on the Ministry of Culture, finances cinematographic creation in France. Receiving no state subsidy, the CNC finances itself by drawing on taxes on the turnover of the distribution of audiovisual works.

The TST thus taxes broadcasters’ advertising revenue, license fees and paid subscriptions to TV channels. The tax on video publishers applies to DVD or VOD sale prices. It is 2% for films for all audiences and 12% for films indicating an age restriction. Finally, the TSA applies a rate of 10.72% on each cinema ticket, of which 80% goes to the producer and 20% to the CNC. This tax is multiplied by 1.5 for pornographic and violent films, i.e. 16.08%.

The sweeping tax

Established in the middle of the 19th century, but very little applied nowadays, the sweeping tax is nevertheless used to cover expenses related to a real service: the maintenance of public roads. Perceived annually, it is due by the owners and co-owners, and calculated in proportion to the road surface that borders each land, whether built or not.

Its tariff is fixed each year by deliberation of the municipal council, then approved by the prefect. For some municipalities, it can turn out to be a real jackpot. Thus, with a tax of 9.22 euros per square meter, the City of Paris alone collects 92% of the 113 million that this tax brings in each year; amount on which the State deducts 8%.

Tax on photocopiers and printers

On December 30, 1975, the Finance Act for 1976 introduced a new tax intended to reduce the loss of earnings in the world of publishing (authors, publishers and booksellers) due to the development of the reproduction of works by photocopying. Its product then benefits the National Book Center (CNL). Thirty years later, the tax extends to printers and its rate drops from 3 to 2.25% with a target yield of 30 million euros per year.

In 2009, it is clear that the objective was not achieved and the State raised the rate to 3.25%. Revenues from the tax then jumped and then fell again, standing at 23 million euros in 2018, the year in which its abolition was decided. As of January 1, 2019, the financing of the CNL then depends directly on the State budget.

Photo Julio PELAEZ

Photo Julio PELAEZ

The right to pleading

This is a tax that dates, probably one of the oldest in France. The right to plead was instituted by royal decree in 1667, under Louis XIV. It is due by a lawyer on each pleading or party representation at judgment hearings; only a few jurisdictions such as industrial tribunals or police courts make exceptions.

Fixed by decree, its amount was fixed at 8.84 euros before jumping to 13 euros in 2011, so that its proceeds allocated to the pension plan for lawyers rose from 13 to 17 million euros per year. Not billable to the client, the right to pleading is nevertheless paid by the latter in the form of disbursements.

The pylon tax

Since 1980, the municipalities concerned – and now also the intermunicipalities – receive from the operator of the power lines (in other words RTE) the proceeds of a tax introduced on the pylons supporting high voltage power lines. Two levels have been established: the pylons of the lines whose voltage is between 200 and 350 kilovolts; pylons whose voltage is greater than 350 kilovolts.

In 1980, fixed prices were 1,000 francs for the former and 2,000 francs for the latter. 42 years later, the amounts are respectively 2,669 and 5,331 euros. For RTE, this represents an annual tax of more than 250 million euros.

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