When Socialist President Francois Hollande took office, he swiftly made good on his pledge to raise the top tax rate on Frenchmen who earn a million euros a year — to 75 percent.
The regime would now confiscate three of four dollars that the most successful Frenchmen earned. Paris also imposes a wealth tax on assets worth more than $1.7 million.
This broke it for Gerard Depardieu, the famed actor and bon vivant who has performed in scores of films in such roles as Jean Valjean in "Les Miserables" and Cyrano de Bergerac.
Depardieu put his Paris mansion up for sale, crossed the border into the Belgian village of Nechin, gave up his French passport and is renouncing his French citizenship. A tiny community of French already reside in Nechin, a kilometer beyond the reach of Hollande’s tax police.
Depardieu says that this past year 85 percent of all he earned went for taxes. Over a 45-year career, he contends, almost $200 million in income has been taxed away by the French government.
"I don’t like the rich," Hollande has said.
The sentiment is reciprocated. One French radio station claims that 5,000 French citizens have fled since he took office.