Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy has a solution to impending hikes in tax rates in France: flee the country.
Police detectives looking into Sarkozy’s finances discovered that the prominent Frenchman was planning to leave Paris and head to London – in part, to escape looming tax increases on income over 1 million euros of 75%, up from 41%, imposed by Socialist President Francois Hollande.
Apparently Sarkozy was planning on establishing a hedge fund worth 1 billion pounds ($1.6 billion) with the help of French political player Alain Minc – a theory backed up by his recent jet-setting visits to high-finance centers like London and Qatar.
Sarkozy has a net worth of $4 million and makes approximately $345,423 a year (€240,000). He’s also under investigation for allegations of corruption: a French judge has ordered him to serve as an assisted witness in the Bettencourt Affair, a scandal in which Sarkozy is accused of using illegal donations from the richest woman in France, the l’Oreal heiress, to fund his 2007 presidential campaign.
Investigations are also underway into cases implicating him in arms sales to Pakistan and another in which he paid friends to produce opinion polls with public money.
In this light, Sarkozy’s decision to leave the country seems less politically motivated and more like an attempt to save his own skin. Yet tax protestors had nothing but nice things to say about actor Gerard Depardieu, whose decision to leave the country over high tax rates was lauded by the American right-wing media but described as "pathetic" by Hollande. (Similarly, Depardieu faces his own legal troubles in France, though those charges are comparatively minor.)
Now, expect the anti-tax movement to point to Sarkozy as another example of what happens when you "punish success."
Conservatives may view this as the French version of "Going Galt," but there’s no principle here: an ex-president leaving the country he led in a fit over taxes speaks terribly to both his character and his legacy.