an blog | AJBlog Central | Contact me | Advertise | Follow me:

French composer denies UK tax flight

Jean Michel Jarre has quashed press reports that he is moving to Britain to escape President Hollande’s draconian 75 percent tax.

The composer admits holding talks in Downing Street about joining London’s Tech City, but insists that he will not relocate for tax purposes in the wake of Gerard Depardieu and others. Read more here.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


  1. Who would want to come to the UK to pay less tax?! Our tax rates are already far too high in order to pay for the excesses of generations of useless self-gratifying politicians, as any fule know.

    Although I suppose even our tax rates are attractive compared to what’s proposed in France. He’d be better off being based in Switzerland and working where he needs to… can’t imagine he’d want to come to the UK for more than the 80 day (?) limit, we get fewer days of sunshine a year than that ;-)

    Exciting to hear of these plans for an electronic music school though, even if it’ll be in London. I used to be a big fan of Jarre when I was a kid.

  2. French composers should move to Ireland. NO TAX on the first 225,000 Euros of publishing/royalty income!

    • My royalty income last quarter was slightly over the minimum wage. That’s the hourly minimum wage … £8.24 for the quarter! I could live on that quite well in the 1800s I should think.

  3. Good for him!

    He’s joining good company like the actor Gerard Depardieu.

    Depardieu, by his own calculation, has paid almost $200 millyun in taxes over this long career. But, apparently that’s not enough for the kleptocrats.

  4. It appears that moving to the UK to pay LESS taxes may be a new phenomenon.

    Musicians like Ringo Starr and actor like Roger Moore now have Monaco addresses. Sean Connery moved to first Spain and then the Bahamas back in the ’60s.

    The Taxman:

  5. Moving to Great Britain to avoid the burden of paying French taxes and instead pay a lesser amount to Britain, would mean that France would get less to fund their military misadventures while Britain would get more for the same, though the net amount available to NATO for blowing away the “enemy” would on balance be less. Too bad the money isn’t being plowed back into public investments that would get both economies (and their orchestras and other cultural institutions) on a more solid footing and make Keynes proud.

  6. Robert Fitzpatrick says:

    Wow. Depardieu, a GREAT movie actor. I saw Cyrano in December 1990 in a cinema on Les Champs. At the end, the entire audience stood and applauded (for a movie!). But he is a jerk of cosmic proportions. Famous for peeing in the aisle of a plane about to land, famous for attacking ordinary citizens who “bothered” him on the streets of Paris, famous for his antics on his motorcycles…He is a multi-millionaire (dollars, euros, whatever). Does he love France or does he really love money? Owner of vineyards, restaurants, quoi d’autre. (BTW, a former leftist, he now hates Hollande and appeared at Sarko events last Spring (looking like something the cat dragged in).

    France and the USA have several tax treaties. I live in Paris and pay my taxes in the USA (US citizen here). If my US taxes paid on my word-wide income (words used in the treaty) exceed the percentage of the treaty (17.7%), I owe nothing to France; if it drops below that level, I pay the difference to France. What a great deal!! There is nothing similar between Euro-land countries.

    The problem isn’t Depardieu, Hollande, Ireland, or France. It’s the lack of agreements among the 27 in the Euro group. I have a lifetime French driver’s licence because of a treaty between France and 17 states in the USA and it cost me nothing. Other folks need to pay thousands of euros (lessons, fees, etc) to get theirs, including French citizens. Is that fair?

    Moving to another country just to avoid taxes is, to put it mildly, not nice. I hope Gerard really likes Belgian beer and moules/frites. I bet his considerable gut came from more than that. (I love him in “La Tete en friche” with Giselle Casadesus (90 something yo). He is a national (no, world-wide) treasure.

    I have been drinking Chateau Fombrauge (2008), the Chateau that owns a Strad (Merci M. Magrez) and am not responsible for typos and stupid remarks in this post.

    PS: If you think the reason GD left France is income tax, you’re wrong. It all has to do with estate taxes and a tax on one’s total wealth instituted 30 (thirty!) years ago in France. Houellebecq ( an author of some note) lived in Ireland for many years and has moved back to France, go figga.

    PPS: If GD paid 200M in Taxes over the past years, he needs a better accountant (according to the financial wizards on France TV, the state owned Television networks).

    PPPS: The French Prime Minsiter said his actions are “minable.” A good translation provided to me of that term by a very famous American composer when describing the music an equally famous American composer: beneath contempt.

    PPPPS: Have a nice night and a great 2013. I’m listening to Lang-Lang play Beethoven from Vienna…OMG!

    • @Robert,
      you said: “…I’m listening to Lang-Lang play Beethoven from Vienna…”

      In that case, you’d better have some more of that Château Fombrauge …

      Santé! :)

    • @Robert

      The tax is a tax – no matter what pleasant names ( Social Security, Solidarity Contribution, Temporary Wealth Supplement ) the governing class gives it.
      I am sure Depardieu has pretty good accountants an tax lawyers – he is not just an actor, he has several businesses : restaurants, vineyards….and those are not mere rich person’s toys, those are bona fide businesses that employed people but now will be shut down. His claim of paying 85% tax, at first dismissed as a nonsense by the governing class , was confirmed by business organizations and by French press ( which, luckily is not yet as subservient as their brethren in US or Russia).
      In fact some businesses were hit by the tax that exceeded 100% of their income ! Here is a link to one of those things you will not likely rfind in NYT :

      French president Hollande proudly proclaimed that he “doesn’t like rich”. Depardieu didn’t surrender French passport when he was hit with 85% tax, he made this decision after being insulted and being called names for daring to express disagreement with current policies. It is his right as a citizen to freely chose to relinquish citizenship of a country that treats him in such way . Yes, luckily there is still such a right – not for long , I assume – our society transformation into new feudalism with citizen-serfs forever indebted in tax to their owner-states is well on the way. Today, a modern vassal already can’t legally refuse “citizenship” unless he submits to another lord-state. Depardieu can’t become a citizen of the world, he has to chose between becoming indebted to Belgian, Russian or whatever other merciful despotism he fancies.

      I know many people in France, some are rich US expats who can sometimes be more than smug about outsmarting the system with tax-free annuities, pension funds and other monetary instruments designed to take advantage of lobbying efforts.
      But some, like one of my French friends, who tirelessly worked many years, without counting days, nights, hours on a genetic breakthrough that will save countless lives, – he will now be hit with “millionaire’s tax” because his research company, in order to raise money, will go public and he will be a millionaire, at least on a paper. How is that for “minable”?
      Further about US-France tax treaties. I rent a house in Paris (next door to prime-minister :-) , just large enough for a piano and a bed. I love France, I love Paris but I can’t possibly consider settling here . You see , the reason is – I do hope one day to be rich and famous (lol! ) As US citizen, I am being EXTRA careful not to get myself into residency mousetrap here. The artists, according to very “generous” US-France tax treaty are double-taxed for anything over 10K USD per year in France. So I have no incentive to play too much here :-) There is an exclusion for up to 95K in worldwide gross income but after that ceiling is reached everything on top will be taxed at a higher rate. US ,of course, taxes their subjects worldwide, independent of residency. Now France, envious of such a great law, wants to do implement the same.
      There was a case , loooooooong time ago, when a would-be senator from New York campaigned for his re-election. He went to one of the biggest sweatshops on Lower East Side in NYC, with many immigrant women from Eastern Europe working in brutal conditions. He tried to whip up their enthusiasm by promising that if he is elected he will make sure that rich pay very high tax – in name of social justice of course. You know what happened? He had to run for his dear life, angry women armed with scissors and irons chasing him away. Because they all had dreams that their children one day, very soon, will be those rich people – and they didn’t like a slightest bit a senator taking their children’s earned money . And you know what, many of those children, even from the poorest backgrounds , did make it rich! I wish such enthusiasm existed today , not the class warfare we are immersing ourselves into with a help of politicians. This is a quicksand that is hard to escape and many will perish in it.

      • Robert Fitzpatrick says:

        A tax is a tax is a tax, I thought Gertrude Stein was replying from rue de Fleurus. Please give my regards to Jean-Marc, and no practicing after 10 PM, especially if it’s Boulez. He needs his beauty rest to deal with the airport protestors in Nantes. Depardieu has no sympathy from me, before, during, and after the current dust-up, in spite of your points well-taken. And yes, I know he is a real business man, that’s what’s so minable. And now the poor dear is selling his new digs on rue du Cherche-midi for 50 Million Euros, how childish. Bring back Sarko and all our troubles will be over (omg, I was just struck by lightning…). GD: Ministre de la Culture et de la Communication. (PS: L’Homme qui rit, his latest, deserves less than the single star that Le Figaro (!!) gave it; he appeared to be phoning it in…back to my wine.

        • Robert Fitzpatrick says:

          PS: French films are subsidized by the government and the major TV networks (France Television) which are also subsidized by the tax payer (AV annual tax of 131 euros in 2013). Cher GD is very willing to accept this largesse in the form of his subsidized 7 figure salary per film (he should give it back for “l’Homme qui rit”) but is more than happy to plead unjust treatment when it suits him. His appearances with public figures whose democratic principals are, to say the least, flexible are well documented. Chechnya also wants him. One regrets that the French PM publicly declared the actions of GD as “minable.” Perhaps if he had just said “regrettable” GD would still be a happy camper. I expect him to burn his Legion d’Honneur at the Kremlin gates.

      • Dr. Marc Villeger says:

        Very well said Valentina! Our common friend certainly does not deserve to see his life long efforts thwarted under the fallacious excuse of “patriotism” brandished by those who made a career in profiteering from the state and selling demagoguery, left or right I may add.

    • “… of cosmic proportions”

      Well, he’s obese, but no need to be so insensitive about it.

  7. Robert Fitzpatrick says:

    Gerard D has been offered a Russian passport by that great humanitarian, Vladimir Putin. 13% flat tax for everyone there, rich, poor or otherwise. BTW, he has already portrayed Rasputin in a TV flic. If he were to move to North Korea, he would double their GNP immediately, while causing even greater famine as he eats, and eats, and…..Monsieur J-M Jarre does seem to be moving his Tech company to the UK and Monsieur Affelou, the French eye glass magnate, has London clearly in view.

  8. Considering news like these, I doubt whether the current British tax policy is positive for arts:

  9. Robert Fitzpatrick says:

    Thank you, sir. I shall consider moving to your fair city after the ice melts. Agreed that cultural life has seldom been on short supply there. I visited in summer 1988 when the words Glasnost and Perestroika were on everyone’s lips and I remember drinking Mumm’s champagne on the Red Arrow on the way to Leningrad (not yet restored to St. Petersburg) which was procured with great difficulty and delivered to the train by the Rector of the Moscow Conservatory for us. But, to paraphrase a very old line, if Gerard moves there, they will have to cancel the Nativity play for lack of 3 Wisemen and a Virgin.

  10. So, how is all this possible on a flat tax of 13%? Large numbers of wealthy people all honestly paying their 13%, because it’s too low a rate to bother dodging? Minimal amounts of public expenditure (other than on opera and orchestras presumably!) – surely it can’t all be down to the oil / gas bonanza? I assume that welfare benefits are minimal to non-existent in Russia these days.

    Last time I was there the food was absolutely dreadful so I’m glad to hear it’s improved.

  11. Partly, for sure. A flat tax has much to recommend it.
    Broadly, they are both too low (set well) to be worth dodging (ie the complexities of doing so cost more to set up and run than just paying); and very difficult to avoid, because they are set across everything.

    Avoidance becomes both easier and more worthwhile when rates are higher, since in general there are multiple different rates for different levels of income, activities, on certain goods and services loosely defined, and then a variety of tax breaks for some (in the UK, say, for investment in film-making, or charitable giving, or certain pension schemes, etc….).

    I mean, in the UK, Tolley’s tax guide runs to over 12,000 pages… it is no wonder the tax law is so complex that there are so-called “loopholes”, that so many find ways through it that others don’t, that honest individuals are caught out (even HMRC – the tax authorities – often get the law wrong, so if the tax law is too complicated for the experts to follow, how is someone running their own business supposed to manage to fully comprehend every detail?)

    Flat taxes do away with all this nonsense, and introduce a simpler regime that captures a good amount of tax from a much wider tax base.
    It is clear from practical examples that when high tax rates are lowered, in general one collects more tax (Laffer curve effect, if you will). However, it often seems that bash-the-rich campaigners hate lower tax rates and prefer higher ones, seemingly because they are symbolic in the high taxation of the better-off.
    This is daft, and “cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face” – surely what we really want is the wealthy to contribute a greater number of actual $ to the public purse – it doesn’t mater what the %age is. In other words, it is better to have a low percentage of a lot than a high percentage of little. If you tax wealth at 99%, for example, it won’t hang around for long to be taxed, so you will only be getting 99% of near-nothing. It’s been tried, and it doesn’t work.

  12. Thanks for that explanation! You make it sound almost wonderful and from the point of view of education and the arts it probably is, but from what I saw when I visited St P and Moscow and some rural areas between (2007), it’s not a country I’d like to be poor in (granted nowhere near as bad as, say, India in that respect).

    I did have to bribe my way into Lenin’s Mausoleum though so I suspect petty (and not so petty) corruption is spread far and wide!

    By the way however, Google / Starbucks etc aren’t “walking off” without paying their taxes. As far as I know they are legally required to have ONE tax base in the EU and they choose wisely not to have that in the UK. They are also legally required to operate in the interests of the shareholders, and so minimise the tax that they pay. Besides, the far more valuable job they do is employ people and make products the rest of us mostly want to buy (though personally I don’t like Starbucks’s roast). Whether we are better off in/out the EU is a topic not for this forum! :)

  13. Indeed, Tim, you are right, unlike many.
    We may wish for Amazon et al to pay more tax in the UK, but the law does not suggest that they necessarily should. For Amazon in particular, EU law is very clear – tax is paid where the brass plate is. The UK also has a double taxation treaty with Luxembourg (put in place by a Labour gvmt, so no-one can blame those awful business-friendly Tories either), which not only makes specific definition of what a “place of residence” for a company consists of, but goes to some lengths to define what does *not* count, for tax purposes, as a trading base. The treaty specifically excludes warehouses, stock control and maintenance, distribution… and staff associated with such; so Amazon having those things in the UK does not render them liable to corporation tax for that activity – indeed they are specifically told they must not pay it in the UK, and must pay it in Lux instead. Not their fault, if that’s what the law says!

    As for Starbucks, let’s not forget that all the tax-avoider fuss is over some £10m – £20m of corporation tax… but they pay something like £80m in wage taxes, generate another £80m-odd in VAT, and at a guess something like £10m+ in business rates on their stores, so they do genuinely generate a fair old amount of tax for the UK exchequer already.

    PS – I think it is fair to say that Russia has other problems besides how they choose to raise their taxes. . . Broadly I’m suggesting that a flat tax is a very efficient and effective way of capturing the taxes you wish to bring in. How the State then chooses to spend that, of course, is a rather different matter altogether!

an ArtsJournal blog