A tax exile row between millionaire movie star Gerard Depardieu and the Socialist government of President Francois Hollande hides a much older problem with French taxes.
To be sure, Hollande’s headline-grabbing 75 percent income tax band may well be prompting well-off French to consider lives as exiles in Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland or Britain.
But in moving to Belgium, Depardieu, like thousands before him, was only rebelling against far more entrenched French tax rules built up over decades by governments of all political stripes and which the exiles argue punish talent and effort.
For some champions of business, entertainment and finance, the fact that they can pay much less in neighboring countries has won the day over national solidarity.
Yet while the wealth tax was introduced by Hollande’s Socialist mentor Francois Mitterrand in the 1980s, it really began to bite when conservative former prime minister Alain Juppe removed upper limits on total wealth tax bills in 1997.