BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh
BBCi CATEGORIES   TV   RADIO   COMMUNICATE   WHERE I LIVE   INDEX    SEARCH 

BBC NEWS
 You are in:  World: Europe
Front Page 
World 
Africa 
Americas 
Asia-Pacific 
Europe 
Middle East 
South Asia 
-------------
From Our Own Correspondent 
-------------
Letter From America 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 


Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

SERVICES 
Tuesday, 19 February, 2002, 17:53 GMT
French chefs beef about tax
Parisian butcher slices beef
Tax cuts would bring price cuts, chefs say
Restaurateurs have stormed the Arc de Triomphe in Paris to protest against different taxes on burgers versus boeuf bourguignon.

Thirty angry demonstrators were arrested when police broke a blockade around the arch, witnesses said.

Chefs had unfurled a banner at the 165-year-old monument at the start of what they called an "unlimited" protest at the taxes on cooked food.

Police break up a demonstration by chefs at the Arc de Triomphe
Chefs say the tax for a sit-down meal is ruining business

Diners must pay 19.6% value added tax (VAT) in traditional sit-down restaurants but those buying take-away items such as burgers are charged 5.5% VAT.

French chefs believe the difference in rates is unfair and prices them out of the market, threatening their country's culinary tradition.

They also complain that the 19.6% rate is the highest applied in all the 15 countries of the European Union.

The Union for Hospitality Professions and Industries (UMIH) on Tuesday urged all its 80,000 members to join the campaign.


Each year, about 3,000 traditional restaurants file for bankruptcy because of the tax differential

Union spokeswoman Martine Prosichel

Some restaurants launched their own battle on Friday by unilaterally applying the lower rate in defiance of the finance ministry, which has branded the action illegal.

But diners will pay the same, as the union has advised restaurateurs to collect the full tax but to pay only 5.5% to the government and put the rest into trust to avoid large tax fines.

"Each year, about 3,000 traditional restaurants file for bankruptcy because of the tax differential," union spokeswoman Martine Prosichel said.


It's not up to any profession... to decide how much tax it should pay

Finance Minister Laurent Fabius

Tax cuts would also mean price cuts for consumers, she said.

But French Finance Minister Laurent Fabius said the protesters were going too far.

"It's not up to any profession - no matter how well-regarded - to decide how much tax it should pay," he said.

He was still willing to discuss the matter.

He has said a reduction of the tax would cost the government roughly three billion euros ($2.7bn) a year and could run foul of European Union rules.

See also:

07 Jan 02 | Europe
Delia teaches France to suck eggs
30 Jun 00 | Europe
Profile: France's farm crusader
20 Dec 01 | Showbiz
McDonald's takes on Asterix
Links to more Europe stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Europe stories