Gerard Depardieu was spotted stocking up on his favorite cheese before flying to Italy – sparking rumors that he has finally left France for good after publicly renouncing his citizenship.
Gerard Depardieu, 63, was wheeled out of Ciampino Airport in Rome after publicly slamming the introduction of a new top rate of tax in France in January 2013.
It is unclear whether the actor famous for his roles as Cyrano de Bergerac and Astérix the Gaul’s sidekick Obélix, is just on a short break in Rome or if he is on his way to Belgium, where it is rumored he will settle.
In an angry letter, published in Le Journal du Dimanche newspaper, Gerard Depardieu said he had been “insulted” by France’s Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault who called him pathetic for wanting to leave France for Belgium to avoid the new 75% top rate of tax.
Gerard Depardieu wrote: “I was born in 1948.
“I started working aged 14, as a printer, as a warehouseman, then as an actor, and I’ve always paid my taxes.”
Gerard Depardieu was spotted stocking up on his favorite cheese before flying to Italy, sparking rumors that he has finally left France for good
Over 45 years, Gerard Depardieu said, he had paid 145 million euros in tax, and to this day employs 80 people.
Last year he paid taxes amounting to 85% of his income.
“I am neither worthy of pity nor admirable, but I shall not be called <<pathetic>>,” he concluded, saying that he was sending back his French passport.
Under French President François Hollande’s tough new budget measures to tackle a €37million deficit, France will tax income over €1million at 75% of January 1.
The Belgian Foreign Minister has given carte blanche to anyone planning to follow in Gerard Depardieu’s footsteps and move to Belgium in an attempt to escape higher French taxes.
“If other French people want to come to Belgium, I’m not at all opposed,” Didier Reynders said in an interview with Le Figaro.
French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault has described the decision of Gerard Depardieu to move to Belgium to avoid higher taxes as “shabby”.
Jean-Marc Ayrault suggested that Gerard Depardieu’s move to the small town of Nechin, just over the border from the French city of Lille, was unpatriotic at a time of cutbacks.
Nechin’s mayor revealed this week that Gerard Depardieu, 63, had taken up home there.
Some of France’s wealthiest citizens are feeling victimized by the Socialist government.
There is a general disgruntlement in business circles over the tax rates. Luxury goods magnate Bernard Arnault made headlines three months ago when he announced plans to relocate to Belgium, denying it was for tax reasons.
However, Gerard Depardieu’s departure is seen as less damaging to the government as his political views are known to be on the right and he is regarded as a rather grumpy, temperamental character.
Belgian residents do not pay wealth tax, which in France applies to individuals with assets above 1.3 million euros ($1.7 million), starting at a rate of 0.25%. Nor do they pay capital gains tax on share sales.
French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault suggested that Gerard Depardieu’s move to Belgium, just over the border from the French city of Lille, was unpatriotic at a time of cutbacks
Next year, the top rate of income tax in France is due to become 75% on earnings above 1 million euros. It is currently 50% in Belgium.
Speaking on the France 2 TV channel, Jean-Marc Ayrault said: “I find this quite shabby… All that just to avoid paying tax.”
Gerard Depardieu was a “great star” whom “everyone loves as an artiste”, he added.
However, according to the prime minister: “Paying a tax is an act of solidarity, a patriotic act.”
French conservative opposition politician Jean-Francois Cope said the departure of Gerard Depardieu was “distressing for the country and its image”.
“You don’t see leading business figures or huge stars moving out of Belgium, Britain, Germany or Italy,” he added.
Gerard Depardieu is celebrated for such cinema roles as Cyrano de Bergerac and Obelix in the Asterix series, and can command 2 million euros per film.
The mayor of Nechin, Daniel Senesael, said the actor had other reasons for moving to his area, which is already home to some 2,800 French citizens including the Mulliez family, owners of French hypermarket chain Auchan and the Decathlon sports stores.
“I think he wanted to enjoy the atmosphere in Belgium, our identity, the rural, bucolic setting,” he told RTL radio.
However, it is quite obvious that the main reason for the move is for tax reasons.
It appears Gerard Depardieu’s new home is an old customs officer’s house, showing just how close it is to the border.