Gerard Dapardieu, and International Tax Rates

Today this famous French actor denied he obtained Russian, and possibly Belgian, citizenship to escape French taxes. Conveniently, this claim was made after an attempt to raise the highest tax rate to 75% was struck down by a court. Depardieu did say that high earners were being punished in France, and he did meet with Vladimir Putin to receive his Russian passport.

A comparison of various corporate and personal tax rates can be found here.

There are some interesting things in this table. The tax rates for Canada are unclear as provincial rates vary. The claim is that the max individual rate is 53%. My quick check at last year’s tax return (spreadsheet) seems to say that, in Ontario, the top marginal tax rate was 11.16 + 29 (provincial plus federal) for 40.16%. (I did not pay this rate, eh?) I am not certain that that is correct, and it ignores the Ontario ‘health tax’ which is not, supposedly, a tax but a levy. {8;^<}

The maximum tax rates in a few countries are given below. The format I use is as follows:

Country:   CorporateRate IndividualMinimumRate IndividualMaximumRate

Argentina   :   35%    9%   35%

Australia    :   30%    0%   46.5%

Canada     :16-41%  4%   53%

France      : 33.33% 0%   75%

UK            : 20-24% 0%    50%

US            :0-51%    0%    35%

So what, you might ask. Well, now for the dumb questions.

First, did you realize that the US Corporate tax rate is misleading, as companies like Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft regularly (and legally) avoid lots of tax? One uses inter-company investment loans to get tax breaks in various jurisdictions (HP) and the other uses offshore profit movement to avoid paying tax on billions of dollars.

Second, did you hear all the screaming when the US tax rates on the rich went up, for those who were unable to manoeuvre around them? Now that rate is 39.6% on income over $400K ($450K for joint filers), the USA still has lower rates than Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Japan, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.

Third, what do you make of Egypt’s tax rate of 20, 10, 20%? However, the country is a major recipient of aid (mostly military) from the USA. Israel’s tax rates are 24%, 14.5%, 46%. Overall I’ll bet that’s higher taxation in all categories than the effective rates in the USA.

Fourth, Russia’s rates are: 20%, 13%, 13%. That’s why Gerard Depardieu wants to be taxed there. Again, a dumb question: what will happen to Russia’s economy when its oil and gas exports slow? Can a country function at this level of taxation?

In short, there is no free lunch, but the rich would like to have one. The intention in all cases is to move taxes from corporations to mere citizens.

Finally, are we going to let the rich, and the corporations, lower their taxes while shifting the burden to us? While they are also cutting social services? Are we that dumb, or that powerless?  Is this a dumb question?

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