France Bad, But America….

France’s thuggish left-wing government generates another tax exile, and doesn’t seem to happy about it…

The Guardian reports

Gérard Depardieu has said he is handing back his French passport and social security card, lambasting the French government for punishing “success, creation, talent” in his homeland.

A popular and colourful figure in France, the 63-year-old actor is the latest wealthy Frenchman to seek shelter outside his native country by buying a house just over the border in Belgium in response to tax increases by the Socialist president, François Hollande.

The prime minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, described Depardieu’s behaviour as pathetic and unpatriotic at a time when the French are being asked to pay higher taxes to reduce a bloated national debt.

“Pathetic, you said pathetic? How pathetic is that?” Depardieu said in a letter to the weekly newspaper le Journal du Dimanche.

 ”I am leaving because you believe that success, creation, talent, anything different must be sanctioned,” he said.

…He said he had paid €145m (£120m) in taxes since beginning work as a printer at the age of 14.

The actor’s move comes three months after Bernard Arnault, chief executive of the luxury goods giant LVMH and France’s richest man, caused uproar by seeking to establish residency in Belgium – a move he said was not for tax reasons.

Belgian residents do not pay wealth tax, which in France is now levied on those with assets over €1.3m. Nor do they pay capital gains tax on share sales.

“We no longer have the same homeland,” Depardieu said. “I no longer have any reason to stay here. I will continue to love the French and this public that I have shared so much emotion with.”

Hollande is pressing ahead too with plans to impose a 75% supertax on income over €1m.

“Who are you to judge me, I ask you Mr Ayrault, prime minister of Mr Hollande? Despite my excesses, my appetite and my love of life, I remain a free man,” Depardieu wrote.

Indeed he does.

But before US readers feel too smug, note the fact that Depardieu, even as a French citizen, can reduce his tax burden by moving out of the country. American citizens—subject, almost uniquely, to worldwide taxation on their income wherever they are—have no such luxury…

  1. genferei
    Mike Visser: I’ve read European banks will no long do business with Americans living abroad to avoid harassment from the IRS as it hunts for taxable monies across the globe.  · 2 hours ago

    There has been more than one case of children going to visit grandparents in the US being detained and questioned at the arrival airport in order to put pressure on the Swiss bank-executive parent. We’ve all heard about the dysfunctional relationship between the FBI and CIA, or the internecine war between State and Defence. For some reason the IRS manages to trump all of these with it’s insatiable appetite for (in reality meaninglessly small amounts of) tax revenue.

    Valiuth: I agree with US policy in this matter. If you are a citizen of our Republic your responsibilities towards it do not end when you leave its borders.

    If Federal taxes were a small impost for the support of the armed forces I can see this theoretical position having some moral weight. But when you know that, in reality, it all gets squandered on diversity outreach co-ordinators and the Congressman Crooked Memorial Bridge to His Brother-In-Law, not so much.

  2. TeamAmerica

    AS-”But before US readers feel too smug, note the fact that Depardieu, even as a French citizen, can reduce his tax burden by moving out of the country. American citizens—subject, almost uniquely, to worldwide taxation on their income wherever they are—have no such luxury…”

    True, unless they renounce their US citizenship.

  3. Spin

    There’s a larger moral argument at stake here, Valiuth.  One ought to be free to choose his or her own nation, if that nation will have them.  Their nation of origin should not have any direct means to discourage this behavior.  It should do so through policies that value liberty.  The fact that I cannot leave this country without paying a heavy tax burden tells me that liberty is indeed a failing value.   

  4. Andrew Stuttaford
    C
    TeamAmerica: AS-”But before US readers feel too smug, note the fact that Depardieu, even as a French citizen, can reduce his tax burden by moving out of the country. American citizens—subject, almost uniquely, to worldwide taxation on their income wherever they are—have no such luxury…”

    True, unless they renounce their US citizenship. · 37 minutes ago

    The US, of course, imposes a harsh tax penalty for so doing, one somewhat reminiscent of the Reichfluchtsteuer imposed by the Weimar Republic and Third Reich, and which, conceptually, influenced the notion of Republikflucht in  East Germany…Great company for Uncle Sam…

  5. Devereaux

    ?Are there not ways to move you wealth elsewhere so as not to be taxed. Then you can have a “salary” on which you pay, while the rest sits elsewhere.

  6. Roberto

    No, certainly not smug. Why would we feel so? After all it has already happened here, Facebook co-founder renounces U.S. citizenship, draws heat.

    No I feel sad, sad that at one time our nation and France had a common bond in love of liberty oh so long ago whereas now the common cause is to  punish success. 

  7. Mike Visser

    I’ve read European banks will no long do business with Americans living abroad to avoid harassment from the IRS as it hunts for taxable monies across the globe. 

  8. BlueAnt
    But before US readers feel too smug, note the fact that Depardieu, even as a French citizen, can reduce his tax burden by moving out of the country. American citizens—subject, almost uniquely, to worldwide taxation on their income wherever they are—have no such luxury

    It gets even worse.  The IRS is now going after people who have never lived in the USA, or earned a single dollar within its borders.

    If guys like Depardieu and Eduardo Saverin keep getting all this press, you can expect this kind of thing to escalate.

    TeamAmerica:

    True, unless they renounce their US citizenship.

    I wonder how long even that will remain a safeguard.  Once a socialist government starts talking about paying in terms of “fairness”, they may move on to ruminate how it isn’t “fair” for someone who built their wealth in a country to continue enjoying it even after they leave.  

    And since the US already has laws requiring foreign institutions to report the activities of its US customers…

  9. Valiuth

    I agree with US policy in this matter. If you are a citizen of our Republic your responsibilities towards it do not end when you leave its borders. Maybe it is harsh to have a penalty for renouncing citizenship, but oh well.  I also hate the concept of dual citizenship.

    Frankly the honest thing would be to not handout citizenship to any one until at the age of 18. When they can choose to be a citizen. Then if they want out they can pay the penalty, thus there is no coercion. 

    If at 18 you choose not to be a citizen you get a permanent residency card, a passport, but no voting rights, or privileges.    

  10. Steve MacDonald

    Since 9/11 and the passing of the Patriot Act, the US tax authorities have become increasingly intrusive to expatriates and have reached absurd levels. However this is not unexpected from a place where public bus conversations are recorded, govt. can and does capture any information about you it cares to, drones are used for domestic spy activity etc. 

    I have spent the bulk of my 62 years living overseas, and have not resided in the US for almost 20 years.  Through most of my life, the comparison between the US and the rest of the world was hugely in our favor and the source of much pride for me.  The erosion of this difference, in which the IRS aggression is but one symptom,  has been distressing to watch.

    One detail not covered above that I will throw into the pot: Expatriates truly have taxation without representation. There are no Congressmen, Senators, Governors or anyone, besides the President, who represents us.