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Tax, Tax more Tax. France's wealthiest man applies for Belgian nationality

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
September 11th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

France's most wealthy man, Bernard Arnault has declared that he has applied for Belgian nationality. The chief executive of luxury group LVMH, cited personal and business reasons and said he would continue to pay taxes in France and keep his French nationality.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Arnault made his announcement the day after French President Francois Hollande said he would follow through with a new tax on the super rich.

Hollande generated controversy in February when he announced plans for a 75 percent tax on revenue exceeding $1.26 million per year as part of efforts to cut France's public deficit to three percent of economic output in 2013.

Arnault, who has resided in the United States during the last Socialist presidency in 1981, has been critical of Hollande's tax initiative, telling Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault last week that he opposed the move.

He insists he is not becoming Belgian to cut his tax bill.

"Contrary to information published today, Bernard Arnault clarifies that he is and will continue to be a fiscal resident in France. His possible acquisition of Belgian nationality will not change this situation or his determination to develop LVMH and create jobs in France," he said.

Ranked as the world's fourth richest man with a total wealth of $41 billion, Arnault jumped from seventh position in a single year, benefiting from his company's rising sales in Asia.

Following newspaper reports last week that the government was preparing to water down the February tax pledge, Hollande and cabinet heavyweights said it would go ahead as promised.

"The French are going to be called on to make an effort," Hollande said. "There will be budget savings and solidarity will be necessary, especially from high earners who must contribute more."

The move has been met with attendant controversy. British Prime Minister David Cameron declared at the G20 summit in Mexico in June by vowing to "roll out the red carpet" for French firms if Hollande followed through on his plan to tax the wealthy more.

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