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World’s Fourth-Richest Man Has Fingers Crossed…For Belgian Citizenship!?
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[Editor's Note: The following post is by TDV contributor, Justin O'Connell]
The fourth-richest man in the world, worth $41 billion according to Forbes, is not all that savvy when it comes to picking the right nations in which to store wealth. France’s richest man, Bernard Arnault, would have done himself some good by subscribing to The Dollar Vigilante before embarking upon his current fiasco or, for that matter, reading any of the freedom press available on the Internet.
In recent weeks, a report from the French daily De Morgen, saying that Arnault cannot become Belgian, topped news in both Belgium and France, as Belgian MP Georges Dallamagne cautioned the paper was merely expressing an opinion, albeit an “opinion [that] is not surprising given that we all know that Mr. Arnault has not lived in Belgium for three years,” he added.
The paper claimed that the interior ministry’s Office for Foreigners had turned down the request on the grounds Arnault had not resided in Belgium for the required three years. But, Dallemagne riposted that this was not grounds alone to dismiss the request. For now, Dallemagne’s committee would “study the opinion” of the Office for Foreigners, but described it as solely an “administrative body.” The law in regards to the request clearly states that “in the absence of three years of residence we can grant citizenship if the applicant has ‘real links’ with Belgium,” Dallemagne added. Although Mr. Arnault has denied that his request is tax-related – namely, to avoid a proposed 75% tax on millionaires – the world’s fourth-richest man would have done better getting away from the disintegrating Eurozone out in the former periphery of Western civilization.
Not only could Mr Arnault be denied Belgian citizenship, but the 75% tax rate proposed for France’s top tax bracket, introduced by Communist President Francois Hollande, has been rejected by France’s constitutional council. Raising taxes for many in France (those making one million euros and more) has been a central policy objective of Hollande.
The Constitutional Council said that the new tax “failed to recognize equality before public burdens” since it was applied to individuals rather than households. So, you see, it was scantly a moral qualm. Rather the bill has not passed on a technicality of language. Likely it is, then, that a very similar bill will be passed. In fact, the court did not say that the 75 percent tax rate was too high. The income tax must simply be reshaped. Bureaucratic incompetence is the reason for the delay in passage. “The government will propose a new system that conforms to the principles laid down by the decision of the Constitutional Council,” Prime Minister Jean Marc Ayrault said.
The new rate, practically speaking, will do nothing to raise sufficient revenues to aid the French economy, for the tax will only be levied upon 1,500 people for a temporary period of two years. But it is merely one bill among many aiming to re-craft the French tax system. The French economy is doing what any state-commanded economy would do: turn to regulation. Official figures posit output increased by a mere 0.1 percent in the third quarter of 2012 – less than the 0.2 percent previously reported and below the 0.9 percent meager growth in Britain. French unemployment has increased to 3.13 million, near the record of 3.2 million. The decision has not changed French actor Depardieu’s mind to leave France.
Since he was crazy enough to choose a next-door European nation for shelter, one can surmise that the decision won’t lead Arnault back to France either.
And so, Arnault will have to put up with the Belgian tax authorities sharing his tax information with Paris counterparts for closer scrutiny of the mogul's Brussels-based companies associated with his LVMH luxury empire. On top of that, it is not as if Arnault has benefitted comparatively from his decision to base his empire and personal life in Belgium. After all, Belgian citizens suffer one of the highest taxation rates in the EU: about 57.3% percent per single earner. The average in Europe is 44.5%. Moreover, residents of Belgium pay personal income tax on their total income from all worldwide sources on a sliding scale.
The world is your oyster. If the fourth richest man is so in-the-dark as to turn to Belgium, of all places, to retire and ensure that his wealth is preserved for himself and his loved ones, then any Dollar Vigilante read up on the newsletter has a good chance of building and preserving wealth just like some of the dinosaurs of yesterday. And that, my friends, is the good news. Just stay on your toes, and don’t move to Belgium.
Justin O’Connell studied History and German Language at Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon, where, in his spare time, he researched current events and their relationship to history. In his studies he has found that societies have been managed by philosophically-kindred ruling classes seeking persistently a singular, total order across the planet. Justin does not believe in government as a medium for human relationships, preferring instead the race of human ideas stemming from a diverse, vibrant culture. Currently, he is a proponent of physical silver as a means of wealth preservation and disobedience to the financial system, and lives in southern California. He writes at the Dollar Vigilante-inspired site, Silver Vigilante.
Sometimes -- especially if you're a correct-thinking, peaceful person who believes in diligence, non-aggression, savings and all that good stuff -- you get the urge to look at some of the really rich people in the world and wonder how they managed to blunder into such wealth. You have to wonder how is it possible to be so mean or so clueless and manage to amass that kind of money? Surely a man with the business smarts to turn himself into the fourth richest man on Earth must know that fleeing France for Belgium for tax purposes is like jumping from one heated frying pan into another.
But perhaps I am being too harsh. I certainly don't know Mr. Arnault's full story. I just know that I have as great a hankering to kick around Europe as the next guy...but if I had Mr. Arnault's kind of money, I'd use it to invest in a Paraguayan passport instead...and see Europe for just part of the year as a tourist with my income blissfully untouchable by the elected cheese-loving thugs of the Old World. The South American republic only charges 10% tax on income...and that's only on income earned in Paraguay! And a Paraguayan visa makes a fantastic travel document. You could spend half the year in the Shengen region without having to apply for a visa. It's no wonder Paraguay's is the citizenship and passport most of TDV Passports customers are asking about. There are other reasons...and you can talk to the knowledgeable and helpful TDV Passports team to find out more.
Mr. Arnault, if you're reading this, we advise you to click here too.
Seriously. If I had Mr. Arnault's money, I wouldn't worry about not being a citizen of one of the tax farms in the EU. In fact, as cute as I think Europe is, I'd feel more comfortable as a visitor than as a citizen of one its kleptocratic welfare states, especially at this very interesting time in history. I'd happily chain myself to some less onerous Caribbean or Latin American tax farmer and just stay in the EU for intervals as a visitor.
"Americans whine so much about taxes," said one of my European friends recently in an instant message as we discussed yesterday's TDV article on Depardieu's saying "adieu" to his Gallic homeland. "You want to see real taxation, come to Europe."
"If Americans didn't complain so much, the US would already be as bad off as Europe," I replied just before she suddenly signed off. "Not that the US is that much further behind," I would have continued if she had let me. Europe wrecked itself physically with guns and war in two parts last century and is now economically wrecking itself with buttery redistribution schemes. The US is wrecking itself mainly by planting guns and boots all over the globe. The governments on both the North American and European continents will be looking to steal lots more money from their tax slaves to support their wasteful programs. If you had the ability to choose, it seems obvious that you'd refuse to tie chain yourself to either of those sinking ships. We really wish Mr. Arnault would let us in on why he insists on drowning.
Editor, The Dollar Vigilante