Russian president Vladimir Putin has officially extended an offer to shelter (tax shelter, that is) big rich crybaby Gerard Depardieu, and some Russian filmmakers aren’t too pleased about it. The French actor has been kicking up a fuss recently over a decision, made by France’s new socialist government, to increase taxes for wealthy individuals earning over $1.33 million. The government will tax any income earned after the $1.33 million mark at a rate of 75%. Wait—what? 75%!? Okay, I can see how that number might shock some wealthy French citizens right across the border into Belgium. There’s something inherently unfair-feeling about having to hand over three-quarters of what you make to the government. But since I’m not an economist, I’ll just look at this issue on a micro level—a Gerard Depardieu-specific level.
Depardieu is worth about $200 million. I don’t know what he makes in a year—his income would of course fluctuate based on the type and number of projects the actor/vintner/restauranteur decided to take on—but even if he were forced to hand over 75% of his entire net worth (as opposed to the 75% of his yearly income that the government is actually asking for), he’d still have $50 million dollars. It’s a number that makes it pretty hard for you to feel sorry for the guy (unless you’re Scrooge McDuck).
But Gerard Depardieu feels sorry for Gerard Depardieu, so he’s leaving France for Russia (and Russia’s 13% flat tax rate). Depardieu’s original plan was to move to a small town in Belgium, remaining quite close to his native France. However, the actor has now been offered refuge in Russia, courtesy of the country’s president. The Hollywood Reporter quotes from a Depardieu-penned letter addressed “to Russian journalists” in which the actor professes to “adore” their country and pinky-swears that he will attempt to learn their language.
Two Russian directors, Stanislav Govorukhin and Oscar-winner Vladimir Menshov, have voiced their displeasure with the arrangement. “I understand this has to do with [Depardieu’s] tax ruses,” said Menshov. “Why be joyful that he will now pay taxes to Russia? That doesn’t make him a Russian patriot.”
Govorukhin dismissed Depardieu as “Just another drunk,” adding, “I don’t like ingratiation with foreigners. Of course, this is trickery.” Trickery, yes. But also an open-ended invitation for Depardieu to start peeing up and down the aisles of Russian planes now, too.