Pennies over patriotism? Stars move to tax havens

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By THOMAS ADAMSON, Associated Press

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

Here's a look at some big names in France and elsewhere whose changes of address over the years have meant lighter taxes.

DEPARTING DEPARDIEU

The French prime minister has accused actor Gerard Depardieu of being "pathetic" and "unpatriotic," saying he set up residence in a small village just across the border in neighboring 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 percent, 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 neighbor Monaco, with zero percent 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 percent 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 percent 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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