French filmmaker Luc Besson becomes US tax resident
French filmmaker Luc Besson, who made the action-heavy franchises "Taken" and "The Transporter" and the films "Lucy" and "The Professional", has become a US tax resident, his production company EuropaCorp said on Monday.
The move to Hollywood was not to flee French taxes but rather to regulate his life in America, where he already owns a home, a EuropaCorp spokesman told AFP, confirming information reported by the French television network BFMTV.
"He is in the United States, so he pays taxes there," the spokesman said.
"When you work in the US in an American company -- in this case the American subsidiary of EuropaCorp -- and your family is going to live in California, you become an American tax resident," he explained.
The spokesman said that Besson, 56, will continue to pay some French taxes, "notably on royalties".
"He is not seeking to become a tax exile," the spokesman stressed, asserting that income taxes for residents in California and France were roughly the same.
Other French celebrities have sought tax shelters. One of France's most famous actors, Gerard Depardieu, became a tax exile in 2013, taking up citizenship in Russia where he reportedly pays just six percent tax on his income.
According to EuropaCorp's last financial results for its 2014-15 fiscal year, the company made 227 million euros ($249 million), more than half of it in international sales.
Besson pulls in more than six million euros a year, most of it in royalties and directing fees, with an annual salary of 790,000 euros plus 324,000 euros in company benefits, BFMTV reported.
France has a top individual tax rate of 45 percent on income, and another 20 percent in social charges. In California, the top tax rate is about 53 percent, including federal and state levies.
Besson started out in the 1980s with action flicks influenced by US movies. International success came with "The Big Blue", starring Jean Reno, then "Nikita", about a female assassin, "The Professional", also with Reno and a very young Natalie Portman, and "The Fifth Element" starring Bruce Willis.
Since then, Besson has been raking it in with high-octane series -- "Taxi", "The Transporter" and "Taken" -- that have proven very lucrative in US releases.
His next project is "Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets", a big-budget sci-fi film based on a long-running French graphic novel series.
Besson is on his fourth marriage, and has five children from different unions.
© 2015 AFP