Belgium minister rules out wealth tax

Belgian Finance Minister Steven Vanackere on Sunday ruled out the idea of creating a wealth tax despite mounting criticism in the country that wage-earners are hardest hit by the current tax system.

"A wealth tax is a door we must leave shut during this legislature," Vanackere said of the 30 months before the centrist six-party coalition headed by Socialist premier Elio Di Rupo faces elections.

But as Vanackere spoke on a Sunday TV talk show, De Zevende Dag, deputy premier Laurette Onkelinx told a Socialist Party congress in the town of Namur that she was mulling "proposals to hit financial speculation".

The head of the Socialist Party, Thierry Get, recently complained that fiscal revenues were 75 percent linked to wages and 25 percent to capital gains.

He said earlier this month that the tax bill of Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate for the White House, would have been 15 times less in Belgium than in the United States.

Talk of taxing the wealthy has grown following a move this month by French billionaire and LVMH boss Bernard Arnault to acquire Belgian nationality.

Arnault, the world's fourth-richest man with a fortune estimated by Forbes magazine at $41 billion, has denied that his quest to become Belgian was prompted by French President Francois Hollande's move to impose a 75 percent tax on top earners.

Aside from not imposing a tax on personal wealth, Belgium's inheritance tax is also lower than in France.

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