During his campaign for president, France’s Socialist President Francois Hollande famously declared “I don’t like the rich” and upon taking office hit the wealthy with a 75% tax rate — a rate that I have criticized as economically foolish and part of an increasing demonization of the wealthy around the world. Now wealthy French citizens have responded predictably by moving out of France and last week famed French actor Gerard Depardieu joined the exodus. The steady stream of departures has left the Hollande government incensed and this week Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault blasted the rich. The English have also seen the same decline in wealthy taxpayers after it imposed a 50% tax. They are now going to reduce that tax after the departure of many wealthy Brits and David Cameron controversially pledged to “roll out the red carpet” for any French residents fleeing the massive tax hike. In the meantime, anger at the wealthy continues to rise in France, where “eat the rich” signs are appearing. The problems is that you cannot eat the rich if the rich flee before the meal.
Depardieu is not going to a tax haven. He is reportedly moving to Belgium which has a 50 percent taxation rate. He is moving to Nechin, a town just a kilometer inside Belgium near the French city of Lille.
Bertrand Delanoe, the Socialist mayor of Paris regretted the move because Depardieu “is a generous man but in this instance he is not showing that.”
Politicians often assume that higher taxes have no impact on market behavior for earners. However, such taxes often make no investments less attractive once the labor and time is factored into the lower rate of net profit.
While I am in the minority on this blog, I continue to be concerned over the economic impact of such confiscatory tax rates and the demonization of the wealthy. A 75% tax rate will not only encourage many French to leave the country or find ways to avoiding direct income, but it will discourage those who might become French citizens. I also fail to understand the increasing vilification of the wealthy which is defined as anyone making over $250,000 a year (as defined by the Administration’s proposed tax hike on the rich). Many of such earners are active in community work and supporting social programs. They also pay the vast majority of taxes in this country. Will they have to pay more, yes. However, the suggestion that they are all deadbeats who do not pay their fair share is unfair in my view.
In the meantime, the exodus is likely to continue and brings new meaning to the statement of Georges Danton: “At last I perceive that in revolutions the supreme power rests with the most abandoned.”
Source: France 24