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Pennies over patriotism: Stars fleeing new French taxes are following familiar footsteps


FILE - In this Dec.1, 2010 file photo, French actor Gerard Depardieu gestures as he arrives for the Premiere of the movie "Small World" in Berlin, Germany. Actor Gerard Depardieu has been branded “pathetic” by the French prime minister, who accuses the star of setting up residence in neighboring Belgium to avoid paying high taxes in France. Depardieu _ star of more than 100 films, including “Green Card” and “Cyrano de Bergerac” _ is just the latest high-profile figure French media are accusing of dodging of the Socialist government’s 75-percent income tax on the richest (AP Photo/Gero Breloer, File)

PARIS - France's Socialist government is introducing a 75-per cent income tax on those earning over €1 million ($1.3 million), forcing some of the country's rich and famous to set up residency in less fiscally-demanding countries.

Here's a look at some big stars in France and elsewhere who have, over the years, put their pennies above their patriotism.

DEPARTING DEPARDIEU

The French prime minister has accused actor Gerard Depardieu of being "pathetic" and "unpatriotic" for setting up residence in a small village just across the border in neighbouring Belgium to avoid paying taxes in France.

The office of the mayor in Depardieu's new haunts at Nechin, also known as the "millionaire's village" for its appeal to high-earning Frenchmen, said that for people with high income, like Depardieu, the Belgian tax system, capped at 50 per cent, is more attractive.

Depardieu, who has played in more than 100 films, including "Green Card" and "Cyrano de Bergerac," has not commented publicly on the matter.

BEATLE TAX

In 2005, the Beatles' Ringo Starr took up residency in Monaco, where he gets to keep a higher percentage of royalties than he would in Britain or Los Angeles. France's tiny neighbour Monaco, with zero per cent income tax for most people, has obvious appeal for the 72-year-old drummer and his estimated $240 million fortune.

The Beatles' resentment of high taxes goes back to their 1960s song "Taxman." George Harrison penned it in protest of the British government's 95 per cent supertax on the rich, evoked by the lyrics: "There's one for you, nineteen for me."

Harrison reportedly said later, "'Taxman' was when I first realized that even though we had started earning money, we were actually giving most of it away in taxes."

LICENSE TO DODGE

Former "James Bond" star Sean Connery left the U.K. in the 1970s, reportedly for tax exile in Spain, and then the Bahamas — another spot with zero income tax and one of the richest countries per capita in the Americas. His successor to the 007 mantle, Roger Moore, also opted for exile in the 1970s — this time in Monaco — ensuring his millions were neither shaken nor stirred.

EXILE ON MAIN ST.

In 1972, The Rolling Stones controversially moved to the south of France to escape onerous British taxes. Though it caused a stink at the time, it spawned one of the group's most seminal albums, "Exile on Main St." The title is a reference to their tax-dodging. In 2006, British media branded them the "Stingy Stones" with reports that they'd paid just 1.6 per cent tax on their earnings of $389 million over the previous two decades.

FISCAL HEALING

In 1980, U.S. singer Marvin Gaye moved to Hawaii from L.A. to avoid problems with the Internal Revenue Service, the American tax agency. Later that year, Gaye relocated to London after a tour in Europe. Gaye, whose hits include "Sexual Healing" and "I Heard it Through the Grapevine" settled in Belgium in 1981. He was shot to death in 1984.

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Follow Thomas Adamson at http://Twitter.com/ThomasAdamsonAP


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