Russia: Land of Opportunity? (Will Grigg)
Friday January 4th, 2013
Over several decades of employment, French actor Gerard Depardieu has paid more than one hundred million dollars in taxes. Several weeks ago, facing tax rates that would have cost him 75 percent of all earnings in excess of one million euros, Depardieu fled the country that considers him a national treasure. He relocated 800 yards across the border into a tiny Belgian village. Roughly one-third of the town’s 2,000 people are French refugees from confiscatory taxation.
Like many other economic refugees from France’s socialist government, Depardieu has been driven to renounce his citizenship. French law doesn’t allow those born as citizens to be stateless. So Depardieu has been granted Russian citizenship.
Why did Depardieu choose to become a citizen of Russia, rather than Great Britain, the United States, or another western nation? For one thing, the actor is already a star in Russia’s film industry. Just as importantly, he most likely did some comparison shopping and found that Russia has a flat tax rate of 13 percent. Russia’s tax police, who aren’t as ruthless as the IRS, don’t hound expatriates.
Things have taken an interesting turn when post-Soviet Russia displaces the U.S. as the land of opportunity.