French PM derides Depardieu for migrating to Belgium

Published:  13 Dec at 6 PM
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Tagged: France, Citizenship, Euro
France’s Prime Minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, is seriously displeased with French movie star Gerard Depardieu’s recent tax-avoiding move just across the border to Belgium. Describing the star’s exit to the Belgian border town of Nechin as shabby, the PM made it clear that he disapproved of Depardieu’s attempt to avoid higher taxes, saying that it was unpatriotic at this time of financial cutbacks.

French business circles are generally annoyed at the increased tax rates, with millionaire Bernard Arnault the first to plan his relocation to Belgium, although he denied increased taxes were behind the move. Depardieu’s departure is regarded as causing little damage to the government due to his temperamental character and right-wing political stance.

The attraction of Belgium is that its residents are exempt from wealth taxes, which apply in neighbouring France after a threshold of 1.3 million euros at an increasing rate starting 0.25 per cent. Another advantage of Belgian residence is that capital gains tax is not charged on sales of shares.

In 2013, the top tax rate in France will escalate to 75 per cent, levied on earnings of more than one million euros, as against Belgium’s top rate of 50 per cent. The French PM considers that paying tax is patriotic and a demonstration of solidarity, although the growing expat community in the little Belgian town obviously don’t agree.

Recently, some 2,800 wealthy French citizens have taken up residence in Nechin, with the A-list headed up by the Mulliez family, owners of the Auchan hypermarket chain as well as the Decathlon sporting goods outlets. Speaking during a radio interview, Nechin’s mayor assured listeners that the new arrivals including Depardieu have arrived to simply enjoy the town’s bucolic setting and ambience.
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