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French actor Gerard Depardieu has angered the public and politicians there after announcing plans to move to Belgium just to avoid the new taxes Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault’s government plans on imposing. The prime minister recently called the actor “pathetic,” which prompted a scathing response from Depardieu, who now plans on turning in his French passport.
According to The New York Times, Depardieu said that he was not moving to Belgium to avoid taxes. Rather, he said that he thinks that the Socialist government believes that “success, creation, talent — difference, in fact — must be punished.”
Nevertheless, Ayrault called him “pathetic” and unpatriotic and labor minister Michel Sapin called the actor’s move a “form of personal degeneration.”
This weekend, Depardieu wrote a letter to Ayrault in Le Journal du Dimanche, claiming that he has paid 145 million euros in taxes over his entire life and paid an 85 percent tax rate for what he made in 2012.
“I am neither to be pitied nor to be praised, but I refuse the word ‘pathetic,’” the actor wrote.
He explained, “I am handing over to you my passport and social security, which I have never used...We no longer have the same homeland, I am a true European, a citizen of the world, as my father always taught me to believe,” reports The Telegraph.
“Despite my excesses, my appetite and love for life, I am a free being, Sir, and will remain polite,” he added.
Despite making headlines often for things other than acting, Depardieu is still popular in his native country. “Unfortunately there's nothing left for me to do here, but I will continue to love the French, the public with whom I've shared so many emotions! I leave because you consider that success, creation, talent, difference, in fact, should be sanctioned,” he wrote in the letter.
Depardieu’s letter was slammed by the left-leaning government. Minister of culture Aurelie Filippetti said that he was “deserting the field in the middle of a war against the [economic] crisis” and “French citizenship is an honour, and includes rights and also duties, which include the ability to pay taxes,” notes the Telegraph.