Gerard Depardieu announces he is handing back his French passport after Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault criticized him for moving to Belgium to avoid taxes.
In a letter to a newspaper, Gerard Depardieu, 63, lambasted the French government for punishing “success, creation and talent”.
Last week Gerard Depardieu announced he was moving to the small Belgian town of Nechin just over the French border.
French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault described the decision as “shabby”.
Next year, the top rate of income tax in France is due to become 75% on earnings above 1m euros. It is currently 50% in Belgium.
“I am not asking to be approved of, but I could at least be respected. All of those who have left France have not been insulted as I have been,” Gerard Depardieu said in the weekly Le Journal du Dimanche.
Gerard Depardieu accused the government of Socialist President Francois Hollande of driving France’s most talented figures out of the country.
“I am leaving because you consider that success, creation, talent, anything different, must be punished,” he said.
Depardieu said that during his long career he had paid 145 million euros to the French taxman.
“At no time have I failed in my duties. The historic films in which I took part bear witness to my love of France and its history,” he said.
Referring to Jean-Marc Ayrault, Gerard Depardieu asked: “Who are you to judge me in this way?”
The prime minister had suggested that Gerard Depardieu’s move to the town of Nechin, just over the border from the French city of Lille, was unpatriotic at a time of cutbacks.
“I find this quite shabby. All that just to avoid paying tax,” he said on France 2 TV channel.
“Paying a tax is an act of solidarity, a patriotic act.”
Belgium is an attractive option for wealthy French people.
Three months ago France’s richest man, Bernard Arnault, announced plans to relocate to Belgium although he denied it was for tax reasons.