Gerard Depardieu Gets Russian Tax Cut After Registering as an Individual Entrepreneur

Gerard Depardieu Citizenship and Tax Controversy

French movie star Gerard Depardieu has in the past made headlines with his conservative political views and his decision to pee on an airplane. Just in time for the holiday season, he caused a political and media firestorm by moving to a border town in Belgium to avoid higher taxes. In France, the top rate of income tax is scheduled to rise to 75 percent in 2013. Some celebrities have opposed the higher tax on the rich promoted by president Francois Hollande. In an open letter, the Oscar-nominated actor later responded to criticism and threatened to hand back his French passport in protest.

The move will allow him to reduce his income taxes on local earnings.

MOSCOW -- French actor Gerard Depardieu has registered as an individual entrepreneur in the Russian city of Saransk, where he was granted residence earlier this year, the Russian wire service RIA Novosti reported.

The status of an individual entrepreneur will allow Depardieu to pay even lower taxes on his local earnings than the 13 percent flat rate applicable in Russia. People registered as individual entrepreneurs in Russia pay a six-percent flat-rate income tax on all their revenues. That scheme is widely spread in the local film industry, allowing crew members and talent to save on income taxes.

Depardieu is expected to star in the Russian film, Serdtse Otsa (A Father's Heart). Earlier, he also mentioned plans to open a café in Saransk.

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Meanwhile, during his visit to Mordovia’s capital, the actor enraged local residents by moving around the city in a car with a blue flasher on top of it – a privilege normally used by federal and local officials and granting them the right of priority passage on the road. One local blogger even sent an address to President Vladimir Putin, complaining that under the law, Depardieu is not entitled to a car with a flasher.

Local authorities later said the car belonged to Mordovia’s head Vladimir Volkov, who gave Depardieu a ride.

Several years ago, a controversy was triggered by the use of a car with a flasher by director Nikita Mikhalkov.