The French prime minister has sharply criticised tax exiles following revelations that the country’s most famous actor has bought a property in Belgium and is reportedly seeking residency.
Gérard Depardieu’s new house is in the village of Nechin, one kilometre from France and where at least a quarter of the local population are from the other side of the border.
France has plans for a top tax rate of 75 per cent compared to 50 per cent in Belgium.
“He told us he wanted to get out of the city, to find something more pastoral and more countrified,” said Daniel Senesael, mayor of the local municipality of Estampuis. “But I’m not naive, I don’t doubt there are tax reasons behind his choice.”
The actor has already been spotted in a local café. Some reports say he’s agreed to spend half the year living in the village. But others hint at perhaps a temporary move to avoid wealth tax.
Following other high-profile relocations abroad, the French government is going on the attack.
“Those who are seeking exile abroad are not those who are scared of becoming poor, it’s because they want to get even richer. Let me tell you something: if we want to resolve the problem of poverty and social inequality we must make political choices,” said Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault.
Depardieu is also said to have properties in several other countries as well as France.
He is due back in his home nation later this week – in court on Thursday on a drink-driving charge after falling off a scooter.