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Last updated at 17:32 GMT, Monday, 17 December 2012

Depardieu to hand back passport

Summary

17 December 2012

The French actor Gerard Depardieu says he's handing back his French passport in protest at the tax increases imposed by Socialist president Francois Hollande. Last week the 63-year-old actor announced he is moving to a small town in Belgium just over the French border.

Reporter:

Christian Fraser

Gerard Depardieu

Depardieu's most recent movie role was in Life of Pi

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He is prone to more than just the occasional outburst but this time Gerard Depardieu is at the centre of an almighty political storm. Last week, the actor announced he had quit Paris for a small town 800 yards from the French border; seemingly to dodge a 75% top rate of tax expected to come into force next year.

The Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said it was "shabby", and suggested he was shirking his patriotic responsibilities. "How pathetic is that?" writes the actor in today's Journal du Dimanche. "I am leaving because you believe success, creation, talent, anything different must be sanctioned."

The actor claims he has paid £120m ($194m) in taxes since beginning work as a printer at the age of 14. "And people more illustrious than me," he railed, "have gone into tax exile." Belgium is an attractive option for French people since it doesn't impose any additional taxes on wealth. And three months ago France's richest man Bernard Arnault applied for Belgian citizenship. The government might question their loyalties; but what sort of message is being sent to the outside investors France is hoping to attract, when some of the country's biggest names are heading for self-imposed exile?

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Vocabulary

prone to

likely to do something (negative)

outburst

a sudden emotional expression, usually of anger

almighty

very big or serious

come into force

start to be (officially) used

shabby

(here) unacceptable; not fair

shirking

avoiding

sanctioned

(here) stopped

illustrious

famous, well-respected, successful

railed

complained angrily

self-imposed exile

the choice to live away from one's own country

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