Johnny Hallyday's tax exile pains prime minister

15th December 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Dec 14, 2006 (AFP) - A decision by French rock star Johnny Hallyday to settle in Switzerland for tax reasons provoked strong reactions among politicians Thursday, including from Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin.

PARIS, Dec 14, 2006 (AFP) - A decision by French rock star Johnny Hallyday to settle in Switzerland for tax reasons provoked strong reactions among politicians Thursday, including from Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin.

Relatively unknown outside France, the 63-year-old Hallyday is a mega-star in his native country, has sold 100 million discs in 40 years and is often called a Gallic Elvis Presley.

"Like many French people, I've had enough of the taxes we are forced to pay and this is it, I've made my choice," Hallyday told French radio during his launch of a Hallyday fashion line in a Paris boutique.

Earlier, L'Express magazine reported that Hallyday would henceforth spend six months and a day per year in Switzerland, just enough to escape the French taxman.

Despite Hallyday's claim that "I love France", French politicians were scandalized by the tax move.

De Villepin said he "deeply regretted" the singer's decision, saying it was not "justified by the fiscal situation of our country".

Other ministers said they were "pained" or "a little shocked" by the tax flight.

The Socialist opposition had a field day, exploiting the well-publicized fervent support that Hallyday has been giving Nicolas Sarkozy, the interior minister and conservative presidential hopeful in next year's election.

"Nicolas Sarkozy needs to watch his friends," said François Hollande, deputy chairman of the Socialist party and the companion of the party's presidential candidate, Ségolène Royal.

"With friends like this you don't get off to the best start in the election campaign," he said.

Others, like right-wing deputy Lionnel Luca, called on the French government to abolish the country's wealth tax instead of mourning Hallyday's departure. "Johnny voted with his feet," he said.

Hallyday already owns a chalet in the Swiss resort of Gstaad.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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