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French Life

French ‘Rock' Legend Applies for Belgian Nationality

Monday 02 April 2007

Ageing French ‘rock’ legend Johnny Halliday has relocated to Switzerland to reduce his liability to French taxes, and has applied for Belgian nationality with the same objective in mind.

The 63 year old singer is a national icon in France and his attempts to tear himself from the country that gave him his wealth, has caused shock waves across the country.

Whilst outwardly Halliday stated he sought Belgian nationality because his father was Belgian and he, therefore, has a strong affinity with the country, many suspect he is doing so for tax reasons.

If he obtains Belgian nationality, the star could then take up residence in Monaco, and escape the payment of French wealth and income taxes. French nationals are granted no such tax relief if they live in Monaco, due to a tax treaty which exists between the Principality and France.

For now, Halliday, who has sold more than 100 million records in over 40 years as an artist, is spending at least six months of the year living in his ski chalet in Gstadd, where he escapes liability to French taxes.

With earnings of around €7 million a year, if the singer remained in France he would pay around €2m in income taxes. By living in Gstaad half the year, this figure is reduced to around €500,000. In addition, he also escapes liability to French wealth tax.

He joins a long list of rich French nationals who have taken up residence in Switzerland, including former racing driver Alain Prost, actor and singer Alain Delon and tennis player Amelie Mauresmo.

For more ordinary mortals, France is not necessarily the tax hell that is painted by the stars. Indeed, for many it is actually a tax haven, a subject we will be covering more in future newsletters.

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