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To Russia With Money…And Sick Elephants?

Brigette Bardot

French star Gerard Depardieu has already made the choice, now former star Brigette Bardot is threatening to join him. Depardieu has decided to ditch his French citizenship and become a Russian to avoid the proposed new tax on high earners. Bardot’s motivation is less financial. She’s ticked off over two circus elephants with tuberculosis who are scheduled to be euthanized.

The French government has not implemented the new 75% tax on incomes over $1 million. They are still debating it. But Depardieu was so angry over the idea that he accepted Russian President Vladimir Putin’s offer of Russian citizenship. He arrived in Russia on Saturday to pick up his new passport. The whole thing has taken less than a couple of weeks, hardly the normal path by which immigrants become citizens. Depardieu still has extensive business interests in France (and elsewhere in the world) and is simultaneously making two films right now, with three more in post production, one about to be released, one in pre-production and two more announced. He’s been a very busy man in the past two years. He has also had a very erratic history of earnings, ranging from a high of €2,300,000 in 1998 to a low of €200,000 in 2009.

Bardot, the original French sex kitten, has not made a film since 1973. Now 78-years-old, she has dedicated her life to animal rights issues, and has had numerous clashes with the French government as a consequence. Whether or not she would find Russia, with its continued love of real animal fur, a comfortable fit is questionable. Though Putin has done several photo ops highlighting his devotion to tagging and releasing endangered species for study, Russia isn’t really known as a place devoted to animal rights.

Movie stars used to move to Switzerland to avoid high taxes. Now, they head for Russia? But, the whole thing makes one wonder about the French tax laws. In America, a very wealthy business owner can manipulate the tax code so he or she pays very little in personal income taxes, the way H. Ross Perot did in 1992. After throwing a million dollar wedding for his daughter (paid for by his business), and having practically everything he did, wore, drove and used paid for by his business, Perot paid less in personal taxes than a family of four earning the median income. The French must not have 72,000 pages of tax code designed to let the rich get away with paying a lower tax rate than their secretaries.

 

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