Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

Commentary

February 19, 2013

Gerard Depardieu, tax refugee

French actor Gerard Depardieu has learned how to go from a beloved symbol of a nation to enemy of the state in one easy step. All it takes is wanting to keep some meaningful portion of his income.

Depardieu is a quintessentially French figure. Appearing in more than 150 films, he has played Cyrano and Obelix. He is a Chevalier du Legion d'honneur. He eats and drinks - a lot. He rides a scooter. It would take a diagram to follow his romantic entanglements with models and actresses. It's all very French, except for the fact that he has earned too much money.

At least he has according to the accounting of the Gradgrind socialists who govern France. Elected earlier this year, President Francois Hollande has imposed a 75 percent marginal income tax on top earners. To this prospect, Depardieu said, "Non, merci." He announced his intention to move to a little village over the border in Belgium where the government imposes plenty of taxes but doesn't aim to impose a punishing tax rate on the wealthy as a matter of justice.

For his offense, Depardieu has been denounced from the commanding heights of the French state. The prime minister called him "pathetic." The budget minister sniffed that his move would be a boom to Belgian cinema. Hollande urged "ethical behavior" on the part of French taxpayers. They all agree that it's wrong of Depardieu not to stand still so that the government can drastically lighten his wallet.

The "temporary supertax" applies to incomes of more than 1 million euros (roughly $1.3 million). It is said to be no big deal since it hits only about 1,500 people and is set to last for only two years. But it comes on top of an already onerous tax burden and is shocking in its own right.

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