French actor Gerard Depardieu has said he is surrendering his passport and moving to Belgium after the French government raised taxes.
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In a letter published Sunday in the French newspaper, Journal du Dimanche, the award-winning actor responded bitterly to French prime minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, who called the 63-year-old actor “pathetic” for leaving his home country for the Belgian village of Nechlin.
“I am handing over to you my passport and Social Security, which I have never used,” Depardieu wrote, in a translation by the Edmonton Journal. “We no longer have the same homeland. I am a true European, a citizen of the world, as my father always taught me.”
Depardieu has appeared in 170 movies, including Hollywood productions like My Father the Hero, Green Card, and most recently The Life of Pi, as well as French classics such as Jean de Florette, Manon of the Spring, the Last Metro, the Woman Next Door, Cyrano de Bergerac, Loulou, Danton, Mon Oncle d’Amerique, and The Return of Martin Guerre.
The recently elected Socialist government of Francois Hollande imposed a 75 percent tax on citizens who earn over 1 million euros a year. Depardieu contended that he has always paid his taxes, including 85 percent of his income last year, and he said he has paid 145 million euros in taxes over the past 45 years. He also condemned French authorities for sentencing his late son Guillaume to three years in prison for possessing two grams of heroin “when so many others escaped prison for acts far more serious.”
“I refuse the word ‘pathetic,’” Depardieu wrote. “Who are you to judge me this way, so I ask you, Mr. Ayrault, prime minister of Francois Hollande, ‘who are you?’ Despite my excesses, my appetite, and my love for life, I am a free being, Sir, and will remain polite.”