10 September, 2012
The idea that anyone, as a free decision, should decide to take Belgian nationality, is an extraordinary one, but that is what Bernard Arnault, Europe's richest man, has decided to do. He is worth around €40bn, and France, the country of his nationality, where he was born and bred, has just imposed a 75% tax on incomes over €1 million. To put this into perspective, if he expects a modest return of 2% p.a. on his fortune, a tax increase from 50% to 75% would involve paying an extra €200 million in tax.
Will all this now go to the happy Belgian tax collector? My guess is Arnault will relocate to Monaco, where there is no tax but French citizens are not allowed to take advantage of it.
It is a lesson for M. Hollande. The rich are flexible and do not like to be seen as something to be milked at will. It is a lesson other countries should learn as well.