Sunday, July 28, 2013

Phrase of the Day: “Jour de libération fiscale”

The concept behind this phrase  is equally applicable to any country whatever, yet I cannot recall having seen an American English equivalent.  [Update:  But now cf. the Comment below, from a reader in Canada.  I stand corrected.]   It alludes to a thought-experiment in which one imagines that, up to a certain day of the year, you are working entirely to pay your various state, local, federal, sales, payroll (etc. etc.) taxes and fees;  and thereafter, working entirely for yourself.  If the former proportion were, say, fifty percent, then for the entire first half of the year (in this scenario of the imagination), you would be working for the gummint, receiving not a penny for yourself.  Somehow, without changing any facts, this depiction touches the gut, more nearly than abstract talk about percentages.
The rhetorical move is comparable to that whereby we are informed that, upon reaching the ripe age of ninety, we shall have spend roughly a third of our lives -- thirty years ! -- doing nothing but sleeping.   And (even more depressing) a year doing nothing but brushing our teeth …

Anyhow, in France, it turns out, today is the first day that Frenchmen are working for themselves:  right down to 27 juillet, it was all pour le fisc.

Listen to this entertaining account by journalist Robert Buissiere:

Pour d’autres friandises
de la confiserie 
du docteur Justice,


Well, so much for French fiscality.   For the more sedulous héxagonophiles, we have just updated our classic and popular post re


[Note:  You must be over twelve to read that post, though exceptions will be made for would-be dirty-minded eight-year-old boys.]

Still not had enough?   Try this!   Dames, dames, dames !



  1. Tax Freedom Day. In 2007, tax-freedom day for France was July 16th.

    The concept is hokey because what counts as a "tax" is arbitrary. In New Jersey, county school taxes don't count (because it's a national or statewide measure) and health insurance doesn't count because it's not a "tax". In Ontario, the school tax is provincial, so it counts, and healthcare is a tax, so it counts. But either way, you are not "free" to avoid paying for schools and healthcare. and electricity, and water, and gasoline for commuting, and lots of other stuff that is considered a "tax" in some countries but not in others.

    1. Right you are, and thanks!
      Indeed, apparently the US invented the ploy, as witness the German Wiki entry, which headlines the English phrase:

      Der Tax Freedom Day (deutsch: Selbsteinkommenschwellentag oder Staatsverbindlichkeitenbefreiungstag) bezeichnet den ersten Tag eines Jahres, an welchem ein durchschnittlicher Steuerzahler eines Landes nicht mehr zur Bezahlung seiner Steuern Geld verdienen muss. Das Konzept wurde von der in Washington, D. C. ansässigen Tax Foundation entwickelt als Veranschaulichung der Steuerbelastung einer Volkswirtschaft und der Staatsausgaben.