Belgium to largish French movie idols: Welcome!


Belgium’s foreign minister Didier Reynders seems a jolly fellow. He should be, given that Gérard Depardieu has chosen to live in Belgium and engage in a shouting match with the French government over French income taxes, which are high. Today Reynders gave an interview to the centre-right newspaper Le Figaro, where critics of the socialist president François Hollande are made to feel comfortable.

Dépardieu’s arrival is a good-news story for Belgium, which could use one; Wikipedia’s entry on Belgium’s “2007-2011 political crisis” seems to me to have pretty arbitrary start and end dates. Reynders’ interview catches the longtime former finance minister in an ebullient and cutting mood. On French PM Jean-Marc Ayrault’s use of the word “pathetic” (minable) to describe Dépardieu: “These are words we would never use in Belgium, even when we are very angry.” On the French government’s desire to renegotiate tax collection between the two governments, the gentlest possible No Way: “We’re ready to examine many things, as long as the superior principle of free circulation of people, goods and services within the EU is respected. But if this is about recognizing some French power to tax people who live in Belgium, that’s a whole other matter. Every European country must accept that its citizens decide to live elsewhere.”

He says the French government’s public musings about a renegotiated tax regime have not led to any actual communication with him. “It makes me wonder whether the French authorities are short of arguments.” He welcomes newcomers to Belgium. “If France wants to advertise for Belgian taxation I don’t mind. If other French citizens want to come to Belgium I’m not at all against it. But it is totally wrong to believe we have been doing all we can to attract the French. No! It happens that for years, France has freely chosen a tax system that has consequences.”

On the notion of a Europe-wide renegotiation of taxation, one of the fantasies French politicians like to peddle to their people now and then, Reynders is unhelpful. “France has made decisions and it would very much like others to assume the consequences. But you have to own your decisions. You can want Europe-wide tax harmonization. But I’m not sure a majority of European governments plan to follow the French example.”

Reynders will not be unaware that France lately doesn’t want to follow the French example either. Hollande and Ayrault are in free fall in the polls. When asked which issue the French government should tackle first, respondents most often mention deficits and public debt.


Belgium to largish French movie idols: Welcome!

  1. We’ve spent thousands of years arguing over tax rates. You’d think we could have solved it by now.

  2. Yes, the French government would surely love that when they tax their citizens to the hilt because they cannot get their own spending under control, that all other countries would do the same. A race to the bottom.

    Who woulda though that someone already paying 85% of his income in taxes would not be happy to pay more. What a concept. At a certain point it’s enslavement. It is not patriotic to allow socialists to take almost all your money and spend it as they please.

    • Millionaires paid 90% under Eisenhower.

      • Everyone paid 100% under Castro, Stalin and Mao.

        Also, thanks to shelters and deductions, nobody paid 91% under Eisenhower. From 1958 to 2010, the taxes paid by the top 3% of earners, as a percentage of total personal income, increased to 3.96% from 2.72%

        • Yeah, they paid 90% under Eisenhower. Americans have always paid more than they do now.

          I know you’re too young to remember much, but stop reading rightwing tripe sites. It only makes you look like a fool.

          • “Americans have always paid more than they do now”

            For most of American history, Americans paid no income tax at all. I know you’re not quite old enough to have experienced that (probably close), but you do look like a fool when you utter such stupidity.

          • America came into being with a debt, and they have always paid taxes.

            You need a history book.

  3. Perhaps members of the Ottawa Press Gallery need to start talking more about the Obama Administration’s attempt to tax US and dual Canadian citizens living in Canada on their Canadian income. In theory the US has always had the right in its own domestic laws to do so but Obama is trying to go after US CDN dual citizens living in Canada for the first. I know a lot of afected people are demanding Flaherty and Harper demand that Obama and Tim Geithner go pound sand. Flaherty has already told Geithner that Canada won’t collect taxes on behalf of the IRS on any Canadian citizens but Geithner and Obama still want the banking records of all dual US CDN citizens through something called FATCA.

    • Along the lines I note that Belgium’s foreign minister Didier Reynders seems to be rejecting the French Government’s attempt to try to tax its citizens living in Belgium but Belgium like Canada has historically not rejected the United States right to tax its citizens living in Belgium or Canada. Again I note that Flaherty has said that Canada won’t collect US tax on US CDN dual citizens.

  4. And don’t forget that the US taxes persons born in Canada if even one of the parents has US citizenship, even though they have never even lived in the US or never had a US passport. Such persons are US citizens at birth and, with the unique US system of citizenship based taxation, they are subject to US taxation just as if they lived in the US, on their world-wide income. And now with FATCA the US is holding a pistol to every bank in Canada demanding that they provide full details to the IRS on all their accounts held by US citizens, OR be subject to a 30% withholding tax on most money transfers to that bank from the US.

  5. The superior principle of free circulation of people. Yes indeed. Too bad America has forgotten that lesson, as it chases it citizens around the world trying to get every Financial Institution in the world via FATCA to identify them and report them so the IRS can tax and penalize them.

    At least Dépardieu’s had the opportunity to leave France without paying huge exit taxes, or having his banking records and income reported by Belgium back to France by some faux tax treaty agreement that France crams down Belgium’s throat, like America is doing with its FATCA IGAs. . In this way, the French are really the ones serving up “Freedom Fries”. :) Hope they don’t decide to model U.S. practices.

  6. This entire comment section is like the Graveyard of Slightly Beside-the-Point Opinions. You guys are swell!

  7. Test comment

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