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French Superstar Actor Joins List of Tax Expats

Wednesday, 14 Nov 2012 | 3:52 AM ET

Two months after Bernard Arnault's bid for Belgian citizenship shocked France, another major cultural figure has crossed the border in a quest for lower taxes.

Etienne George

Indeed, according to Belgian newspaper Le Soir, French superstar actor, Gerard Depardieu, has recently bought a mansion in the southern Belgium's francophone region. His new home is in the town of Nechin, located just about a mile from the border, where French expats notoriously make up 27 percent of the local population.

The move could allow the quintessentially French actor to escape the tax increases put up by the recently elected Socialist government in France.

Indeed, the budget unveiled in September by French President Francois Hollande included one of his most controversial campaign promises: a 75 percent tax for incomes over 1 million euros ($1.27 million). On Tuesday, Hollande renewed his attachment to the measure in his first official press conference since taking power, and re-affirmed that the tax will only be a temporary one—for the next two years—in an effort to tackle the current economic crisis.

Anchors Fight Over French Wealth Tax
Squawk Box Europe anchor Steve Sedgwick and Paris correspondent Stéphane Pedrazzi engage in a heated debate about whether a French wealth tax of 75% is justified.

While the Belgian income tax system is, like in France, a progressive one, the top tax bracket applied on income over 35,000 euros is only 50 percent.

According to paiecheck.com, Depardieu earned an estimated 2 million euros in 2010 and up to 3.5 million euros in 2008, when he appeared in nine movies.

During the last presidential campaign, the actor actively supported right wing candidate Nicolas Sarkozy.

Depardieu is famous in France for such roles as national icon Asterix's sidekick Obelix, Les Miserables' Jean Valjean or mine worker unionist Toussaint Maheu in a 1993 adaptation of Zola's famous social criticism Germinal.

—By Guillaume Desjardins, Assistant Editor, CNBC.com

@GuillaumeCNBC