However, they have since evolved into a bigger, general anti-Macron uprising, with many criticising the president for pursuing policies they claim favour the richest members of French society.
"No tax is worth putting the nation's unity in danger", Philippe said in a live televised address.
Seven people died and hundreds were severely injured.
"What we are asking of you Mr Prime Minister, is not a postponement".
He said the wealth tax could be reassessed in 2019.
The FNSEA farmers' union said it would fight to help French farmers earn a better income but would not officially be joining forces with the "yellow vests" - protesters wearing the high-visibility vests that French motorists are required to keep in their cars.
While welcome ecologically, any increase to fuel prices stood to severely impact those already struggling financially because of low wages, high taxes and high unemployment.
The "gilets jaunes" movement began as a protest against a rise in duties on diesel, which is widely used by French motorists and has always been less heavily taxed than other types of fuel.
Mr Macron's misery was likely compounded by a tweet from US President Donald Trump, who has been vocal critic of the the Paris climate agreement his French counterpart is so committed to.
Protests last Saturday caused heavy property damage in Paris and other French cities. Violent rampaging last Saturday devastated the French capital.
One unifying complaint among the leaderless protesters, who come from across the political and social spectrum, has been the anger at Macron and the perceived elitism of France's aloof ruling class. Benjamin Cauchy, a major figure in the movement said, "We will not be put to sleep by a moratorium, the issues are much wider than that", and added, "the French do not want crumbs, they want the breadstick in full".
Polling showed that 70 percent of French residents opposed the measure, even after they elected Macron in a landslide previous year. On Tuesday night, the young leader was booed and jeered as he traveled to a regional government headquarters that was torched by protesters last weekend.
"The Paris Agreement is fatally flawed because it raises the price of energy for responsible countries while whitewashing some of the worst polluters...in the world".
Macron's office said he would not speak publicly about the violence "for the time being", though he met briefly with a protester at his office Tuesday.
The rising cost of gasoline and diesel fuel sparked protests that have since evolved into broader demonstrations against Macron's government, exposing tensions between the metropolitan elite and rural poor.
Jacline Mouraud, a self-proclaimed spokesperson for the so-called "yellow vest" protesters, told The Associated Press that Macron's move "is on the right path but in my opinion it will not fundamentally change the movement".