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What Macron said he’d do to boost taxpayer purchasing power

French President Emmanuel Macron poses before a special address to the nation, his first public comments after four weeks of nationwide 'yellow vest' protests, at the Elysee Palace, in Paris, Monday, Dec. 10, 2018. Facing exceptional protests, French President Emmanuel Macron is promising to speed up tax relief for struggling workers and to scrap a tax hike for retirees. (Ludovic Marin/Pool Photo via AP)

PARIS (AP) — French President Emmanuel Macron responded to weeks of disruptive protests Monday, promising to speed up tax relief and to boost the purchasing power of struggling workers and retirees. A look at some of the major policy shifts and pledges:

MINIMUM SALARY:

Now: France’s minimum salary for a full-time job is 1,185 euros ($1,346). An increase of 21 euros ($23.80) was expected in January as part of an annual adjustment based on price inflation and others economic factors. In addition, a cut in payroll taxes was bringing another rise of 23 euros ($26).

Next year: Macron announced the minimum salary would go up by 100 euros per month through a government-funded increase at the beginning of 2019. He did not explain how it would be financed.

OVERTIME PAY:

Now. Overtime applies to employees working more than 35 hours per week. Former President Nicolas Sarkozy implemented tax-free overtime hours, allowing employees to improve their salaries by working more. The policy was abolished under Macron’s predecessor, Francois Hollande. Macron’s government planned to reinstitute it in September 2019.

Next year: Macron confirmed that workers will no longer have to pay taxes on overtime pay starting next year, but didn’t say what month. The president’s office said the change would be implemented earlier than previously planned.

END-OF-YEAR BONUS:

Now: The French state is paying the country’s poorest households a year-end bonus. The amount is about 150 euros ($170) for a single person.

Next year: Macron asked profit-making companies to give their employees tax-free bonuses at the end of 2019. He exempted businesses that are struggling.

PENSIONS:

Now: French retirees had their pensions frozen this year, while a tax increase on some retirement earnings impacted about eight million pensioners. Macron explained that he preferred to have people still in the workforce benefit from tax cuts.

Next year: Macron withdrew the tax hike on pensions under 2,000 euros ($2,270), acknowledging it was a “too big” and “unjust” effort.

TAX CUTS:

Now: The government already planned to cut housing and payroll taxes by 6 billion euros ($6.8 billion) next year.

Next year: Macron reaffirmed the plan.

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