75 percent tax rate leads to exodus of wealthy French citizens

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High-profile French citizens are fleeing France to avoid socialist President Francois Hollande’s proposed 75 percent tax rate.

While revered French actor Gerard Depardieu has been vocal about his egress from France, it appeared former President Nicolas Sarkozy hoped to keep his plans to move to London under wraps.

According to a report by the British Daily Mail, Sarkozy’s plans to ditch his home country for the U.K. were discovered by fraud police while investigating his Paris mansion last June, as the former leader is facing inspection for corruption during his presidency. Details of the plan, which were found in a file on his computer, suggest that he is planning to establish an $800 million investment fund in London.

Current French President Francois Hollande wants to increase the tax rate (AP Photo)

A mass exodus of prominent French figures began with Depardieu, who moved to Belgium and was then offered Russian citizenship, a passport and even a warm physical embrace from President Vladimir Putin himself on Jan. 6, according to Reuters.

Depardieu sparked controversy when he announced his intent to leave France in an open letter to French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault. The actor wrote, “I’m leaving because you think success, creation, talent and anything different should be punished. I am sending you back my passport and social security, which I have never used.”

Dr. Kelly Patterson, professor of political science at BYU with expertise in French politics, explained that while the “war” on the 75 percent tax has cost France Depardieu and others, Sarkozy’s desire to flee is more surprising.

“It’s odd for such a large and prominent figure such as (Sarkozy) to leave for non-security reasons,” Patterson said.” The (former) French president is supposed to be this unifying figure who transcends politics. In this case, it seems in some ways that if he does move, it’s an abandonment of his ‘Frenchness.'”

“He is the last person you would expect to take his business out of a country he ran for five years,” wrote Henry Samuel, The Daily Telegraph’s France correspondent.

Though Hollande’s initial effort to implement a 75 percent tax rate on those earning over one million euros was deemed unconstitutional, the French president remains determined to carry out severe taxation of France’s wealthiest. Patterson explained that Hollande is committed to delivering on a promise he made to his constituents during his 2012 presidential campaign.

During Hollande’s presidential new year address in Paris, he explained that the rejected tax proposal would be “adjusted without changing its objective.”

“We will still ask more of those who have the most,” he said.

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