French PM Jean-Marc Ayrault attacked Depardieu’s departure to Belgium but the actor has fired back, telling the French government that they are punishing talent.
With one of France’s most renowned actors leaving his native soil, it was revealed by the Guardian that he had paid €145 million euros (£120m) in taxes since he was 14. France is currently taxing people who earn more than €1 million a year 75% of their income. Many of the French elite have fled France to avoid the steep tax, which has been criticised and widely mocked in Europe. David Cameron famously “rolled out the red carpet” for the French who wanted to live elsewhere and enjoy a favourable tax system.
Depardieu’s departure is notable because he is a cultural reference in France that is a very powerful symbol of national pride. Culture is one of the most important institutions in France. The French are big cinemagoers, and the government’s attacks on him will likely enrage the elite further, and push creativity out of France.
Despite all the success that Depardieu has, he is still being considered “pathetic and unpatriotic” despite his enormous contribution to the French government coffers. Will others follow suit?