France’s richest man, billionaire Bernard Arnault, CEO of luxury conglomerate LVMH, applied for Belgian nationality but denied his motivation was recently introduced taxes for France’s super-rich. Belgian authorities have for the moment, said ‘Non'.
Following tax reforms introduced by France’s Socialist Government under Francois Hollande which would see France’s richest individuals paying income tax at up to 75% a number of super rich individuals have threatened to quit the country. As reported earlier in Digital Journal, film star Gerard Depardieu recently announced he would be moving to the balmier tax climes of neighbouring Belgium whilst former screen goddess Brigitte Bardot had also threatened to quit France although she gave as her reason her opposition to a pair of elephants being euthanized at a French zoo.
Authorities in Belgium have now turned down an application for Belgian naturalization from French business supremo Bernard Arnault, CEO of LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy) reckoned to be Europe’s richest businessman, reports Yahoo News. The reason given for their refusal is that Arnault had been unable to prove that he had his principal residence in Belgium for the required period of at least three years.
Bernard Arnault had previously denied his intended move to Belgium was for tax reasons, reports 20minutes. He had made an application for Belgian naturalization last September. Critics in his home country, France, were unconvinced and claimed the move was aimed at avoiding France’s new income tax regime which would see those earning more than one million euros per annum face tax rates of 75% as well as being required to pay France’s wealth tax, exigible on worldwide assets.
For the moment implementation of the new French 75% income tax rate has been shelved by France’s Constitutional Court but there is every indication that the French Socialist government will come back with revised proposals to meet the court’s objections.
In Belgium, quite apart from the absence of a 75% income tax rate, there is no wealth tax whilst sales of company shares are not liable to capital gains tax.