French taxes may decrease before 2017: minister

PARIS Wed Jan 22, 2014 3:29am EST

France's Finance and Economy Minister Pierre Moscovici and France's President Francois Hollande (R) attend a meeting with the Dutch government in The Hague January 20, 2014. REUTERS/Freek van den Bergh/Pool

France's Finance and Economy Minister Pierre Moscovici and France's President Francois Hollande (R) attend a meeting with the Dutch government in The Hague January 20, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Freek van den Bergh/Pool

PARIS (Reuters) - French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici said on Wednesday that taxes would start to decrease before 2017 if a deficit-cutting program remained on schedule and economic growth allowed the government to revise fiscal policy.

The Socialist government is due to launch talks with business leaders to simplify a complex tax code days after President Francois Hollande promised to reduce labor costs for companies by 30 billion euros ($40.6 billion).

The government plans to reduce taxes in 2017, but Hollande said last week that taxes could start to come down as early as 2015, notably for corporations, as France tries to bring its tax policy into line with Germany's.

"A reduction is planned between now and the end of the presidential term (2017)," Moscovici told RMC radio when asked if taxes would fall next year. "If we gain a margin of maneuver thanks to growth, that will allow us to act more quickly (on taxes)."

He said the timing of any reduction in taxes would depend on how quickly France could meet savings targets laid out by Hollande in a New Year's press conference, and whether economic growth held up.

Economic growth this year, seen at 0.9 percent in official forecasts, could exceed 1.0 percent if all parties embraced a reform drive aimed at bolstering competitiveness and reversing years of economic decline, he added.

Earlier, Budget Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said that Hollande hoped to be able to reduce taxes next year.

"If we are able to do it, we will do it," he told France Info radio when asked about a possible reduction in income taxes in 2015. "That's the president's plan." ($1 = 0.7383 euros)

(Reporting by Nicholas Vinocur; Editing by Catherine Evans)

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