A French constitutional panel has thrown out a plan to tax the ultra-wealthy at a 75% rate, saying it was excessive.

The constitutional council ruled today that the highly contentious tax, which President Francois Hollande promised to impose while campaigning, was unfair. It was intended to hit those with incomes over €1m.

The French government approved the tax in its most recent budget, but even before many said it would do little to stem the country’s mounting fiscal problems and would drive away the wealthiest citizens.

Mr Hollande’s popularity, meanwhile, has been tanking as the country’s unemployment continued its rise for the 19th straight month.

In recent weeks, Gerard Depardieu – France’s most famous actor – moved to Belgium to avoid his home country’s high taxes.

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