will be French no more, so exasperated is he with French taxes and the French government, he declared in an angry open letter to France
’s prime minister on Sunday.
Mr. Depardieu, who has been accused by France’s Socialist government of abandoning the country to avoid paying taxes
, will be giving up his French citizenship and taking up residence over the border in Belgium, he wrote. Mr. Depardieu insisted that his move was not solely for tax reasons, but also because he felt the government believed that “success, creation, talent — difference, in fact — must be punished.”
Mr. Depardieu’s decision to leave France, where the Socialist government has created a 75 percent marginal tax rate for incomes above $1.3 million amid stagnating growth, rising unemployment and a contracting budget, has drawn reprobation from politicians of all ideological stripes, as well as the news media and a good number of ordinary citizens. Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault has called the actor’s departure unpatriotic and “pathetic,” while the labor minister, Michel Sapin, deemed it the sign of a “form of personal degeneration.”
He also joked that French residents of Néchin, the Belgian border village where Mr. Depardieu has bought a home, should not get too comfortable. Mr. Hollande noted that the mayor there is also a Socialist.