Billionaire Family to Forgo Tax Deduction on Notre Dame Donation

April 17, 2019, 4:32 PM

French billionaire Francois-Henri Pinault and his family have vowed to forgo a 60 percent tax deduction on the 100 million euro ($113 million) donation they have pledged to the rebuilding effort for the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris.

The family’s April 17 announcement came as the French government said it will present a draft law to Parliament, as early as next week, that includes a specific tax incentive measure to bring in donations for the effort. The measure will be part of a framework to rebuild the cathedral, which was hit by a catastrophic fire two days earlier, it said.

A tweet by Prime Minister Edouard Philippe suggested the measure won’t target big corporate and wealthy individual donations, at least not initially. “We have opted for an incentive system that will address the biggest number” of people, he said. Those who donate up to 1,000 euros for reconstruction of the cathedral will get a 75 percent deduction, he said. Those who donate more than 1,000 euros would continue to get a 66 percent deduction allowed under current law.

The move comes as President Emmanuel Macron and his government have been accused of favoring corporate entities and big investors over working people. The government has been reeling after five months of yellow jacket protests in its cities, some extremely violent, in particular over its tax policies.

Also April 17, Michel Savin, an Isere Region French senator from the Les Republicains party, said on radio France Bleu Isere and on his website that he has proposed a draft bill that would give a 90 percent tax deduction for Notre Dame reconstruction donations of up to 1,000 euros. “That would let everyone put their stone in the edifice, even in a symbolic way.”

Almost $1 Billion Pledged

French Culture Minister Franck Riester said nearly $1 billion has already been pledged for the reconstruction effort. Most of those pledges have come from wealthy families and corporate groups.

Under the so-called 2003 Aillagon law relating to patronage, associations, and foundations, corporations can get 60 percent tax deductions for donations, up to 0.5 percent of their turnover.

Jean-Jacques Aillagon, who proposed the law as minister of culture under former President Jacques Chirac, urged the government in an April 15 tweet to quickly “decree” the cathedral a “national treasure” so that donations for its reconstruction would benefit from a tax deduction of 90 percent under the law.

—With assistance from James Regan (Bloomberg).

To contact the reporter on this story: Rick Mitchell in Paris at correspondents@bloomberglaw.com (Bloomberg Tax)

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Meg Shreve at mshreve@bloombergtax.com, Vandana Mathur at vmathur@bloombergtax.com(Bloomberg Tax)

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