Last week, we mentioned that actor Gerard Depardieu was leaving France after new taxA tax is a mandatory payment or charge collected by local, state, and national governments from individuals or businesses to cover the costs of general government services, goods, and activities. es on high-income earners have come into effect, and a new proposal for a top tax rate of 75 percent under consideration. We predicted that "[m]aybe some French officials will say good riddance or denounce him for being insufficiently patriotic but this is more evidence that punitively high tax rates can change behavior."
French officials have responded predictably, with the Prime Minister calling Depardieu "pathetic and unpatriotic," with some calling for stripping citizenship from wealthy people that leave to avoid the high tax rates. In response, Depardieu distributed a letter to the media (in French here):
Pathetic, you said "pathetic"? That is pathetic!
I was born in 1948, I started working at the age of 14 years as a printer, then as a warehouseman, then as dramatic artist. I have always paid my taxes regardless of the rate under all governments.
At no time have I failed in my duties. My participation in historical films reflect my love of France and its history.
People more illustrious than me have gone into exile.
I unfortunately have nothing more to do here, but I continue to love the French public and with whom I shared so many emotions. I'm leaving because you consider that success, creativity, talent, anything different, must be punished.
I do not ask to be approved, but I could at least be respected.
Of all those that have left none have been insulted as I have.
I do not have to justify the reasons for my choice, which are numerous and intimate.
I leave after paying, in 2012, 85% tax on my income. But I keep in mind that France was beautiful and I hope will remain.
I give you my passport and Social Security, which I've never used. We no longer have the same homeland, I'm a true European, a citizen of the world, as my father has always taught.
I find pathetic the hard justice against my son William judged by judges who condemn any kid to three years in prison for two grams of heroin, when so many others escaped prison for acts otherwise more serious.
I do not blame all those who have cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes, or drink too much alcohol, or those who sleep on their scooter. I'm one of them, as your dear media likes so much to repeat.
I never killed anybody, I do not think I've acted in an unworthy manner. I paid €145 million in tax over the past 45 years. I have created work for 80 people in businesses which are managed by them.
I’m not complaining or looking for praise but I reject the word "pathetic".
Who are you to judge me so I ask you, Mr. Ayrault, Mr. Hollande, I ask you, who are you? Despite my excesses, my appetite and my love life, I am a free man, sir, and I'll be polite.