Gerard Depardieu says au revoir to high French tax rates

Will we soon be scrapping the phrase “Going Galt” for “Going Gerard?” Could be.

MOSCOW — French actor Gerard Depardieu is officially a resident of One Democracy Street in the Russian city of Saransk, about 400 miles east of Moscow.

According to Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency, the actor traveled there on Saturday to pick up his residency papers, the last step in his quest to flee France’s new proposal to tax top incomes at 75 percent.

In December, Depardieu appealed to Russian President Vladimir Putin, with whom he has maintained a warm relationship, saying he would seek Russian citizenship which would allow him to enjoy the country’s 13 percent flat tax rate.

At an annual press conference Putin said he would give him citizenship if asked and a few weeks later did so by decree.

We can leave aside, for the moment, his choice of Russia as a new home, particularly given the earlier news today. But politics aside, you can see how a 13% flat tax rate would be appealing to somebody who makes as much money as Depardieu when compared to the new, tax and spend rate of 75% he was looking at in France. The French government won’t lose a measurable amount of revenue from one citizen moving out in terms of actual cash, but what they do lose is credibility. The actor remains a very popular figure in his former home country, and the public relations effect of seeing the government’s policies chase him out of the nation can’t be good.

Here in the United States we have people like Phil Mickelson who have considered similar moves, but at least we only have to move to a different state, not give up our citizenship. (At least not yet.) But limiting it to sports figures won’t be enough. What we really need is some of the top earning actors at the Oscars tonight to come out and declare that they’ll be leaving California for lower tax states. Of course, that would bust the entire liberal argument on fiscal policy, so they must be in a bit a conundrum. Ah, the perils of success.