Gerard depardieu to 'give up French passport'PA



French actor Gerard Depardieu says he is handing back his French passport after he was criticised by the prime minister for moving to Belgium to avoid taxes.

The Daily Telegraph reports that Depardieu declared he was finished with the country in a letter published in the Journal du Dimanche.

Addressed to French prime minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, who called him 'pathetic' for wanting to move over the French border to the wealthy Belgian town of Nechin, where he can avoid the current government's tax hikes, Depardieu wrote that there was nothing left for him to do in France.

'I am handing over to you my passport and social security, which I have never used,' he wrote. '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.

'Despite my excesses, my appetite and love for life, I am a free being, Sir, and will remain polite.'

According to the BBC, the actor lambasted the French government for punishing 'success, creation and talent'.

Next year, the top rate of income tax in France is due to become 75 per cent on earnings above one million euros. It is currently 50 per cent in Belgium.

Depardieu said: 'I am not asking to be approved of, but I could at least be respected. All of those who have left France have not been insulted as I have been.'

The Daily Telegraph reports that he remains widely popular in France, despite making headlines for occasional drunken and lewd behaviour.

He said he has always been an upstanding citizen and has paid £118 million in taxes over 45 years.

'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.

Depardieu has recently asked for information about applying for a Belgian passport and using Belgian health care.



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