France's rich ask to be taxed more

Sixteen of the richest people in France have signed a petition calling on the French government to tax them more in an attempt to balance the country's books.

Some of the wealthiest people in France have taken a page from Warren Buffett's playbook and asked the French government to tax them more.

Sixteen executives from some of France's largest companies including L'Oreal, Total, Societe Generale, Air France, Danone, Areva, Peugeot and Citroen put their names to a petition, published in Paris-based magazine Le Nouvelle Observateur, calling for the government to implement a one-time "exceptional contribution" by the country's super wealthy.

"We are aware that we have clearly benefited from a French and European environment we are fond of, and one we would like to preserve," the petition reads.

The group says they would be willing to pay a one-time tax, calculated on what they call "reasonable proportions," to help do their part to pull France out of its economic doldrums.

France retains its pristine AAA debt rating from agencies Fitch, Moody's and Standard & Poor's. But with the government's public debt now at 81 per cent of the country's GDP, French officials are scrambling to maintain it amid waning growth.

Battered in the polls, President Nicolas Sarkozy faces long odds of being re-elected next April. He is trying to end a series of tax exemptions, but thus far has avoided an outright tax increase.

The letter is reminiscent of one written by U.S. billionaire Warren Buffett, who last week wrote in the New York Times that a tax increase super-rich people like himself would go a long way to solving the country's debt crisis.

"At a time when the public debt ... threatens the future of France and Europe, at a moment when the government asks for solidarity from everyone, it seems necessary for us to contribute," the French letter reads.