Gerard Depardieu is giving up his French citizenship due to his home country’s oppressively high tax rate. Bloomberg reports that the French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault called the move “pathetic” and that other ministers joined in the condemnation.
But Depardieu is not alone. The famous (and increasingly infamous) actor was preceded by French billionaire Bernard Arnault, chief executive of LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, who also found the country’s tax rate to be unbearable.
The French government recently moved to raise top tax rates to 75% for incomes over one million euros, Bloomberg reports. The article gives the state of the debate, illustrating what happens when individuals have options:
Critics point out that Depardieu has benefited from generous government subsidies to France’s film industry, while defenders say it is unfair to condemn him for leaving the country when many wealthy French have done likewise. Nearly 6,300 taxpayers subject to France’s “wealth tax” on high-net-worth individuals—the only tax of its type in Europe—left the country between 2001 and 2010, the newspaper Le Parisien reported on Dec. 17. The French-speaking border region of Belgium where Depardieu plans to settle is one of the most popular destinations, along with Switzerland and Britain.
Depardieu argues that he has paid 145 million euros in taxes over the course of his career.