Tax-Exile Hell

You know, it can be a tough life when you happen to have a lot of money at your disposal. Just ask Mitt Romney. Or nose around a bit in Geneva:

#Economie – Des fortunes de France vivraient l’enfer à Genève: Un reportage sur les exilés fiscaux français clou…


News Suisse

A little background: The new French Socialist government of François Hollande (dominating both the executive and the legislature) made it clear both pre- and post-election that it intends to substantially raise taxes on the rich. As a result, many of those rich are upping stakes and leaving, often just across the border to more tax-friendly but still francophone climes in Belgium or Switzerland, where they can escape French taxes if they live there for at least 183 days in the year.

Trouble is, it’s not that simple, at least when it comes to Geneva, where for all their money these tax-exiles have to deal with substantial culture-shock. That @news_suisse tweet links to a piece in Geneva’s own Tribune de Genève by Dino Auciello, about how his own venerable hometown is somehow just so uncomfortable and, well, boring for these wealthy wanderers. It’s not difficult to detect Auciello’s thick irony just below the surface, as in his lede:

Poor French fiscal exiles! Those who flee from ever more oppressive fiscal authorities, now the promised land of Geneva reveals itself to them as a veritable hell.

Things are so humdrum there, he reports, that “aside from golf and adultery, distractions are rare.”

Auciello is not making any of this up but rather keying off a presumably rather more sincere article by Airy Routier from the French newsmagazine Le Nouvel Observateur entitled Why fiscal exile is misery, itself topped with a picture of a fancily-dressed woman forlornly picking at a piano on her balcony overlooking what we might assume is Lake Geneva. What a lonely and boring life – and those Swiss are so strange! Routier (whose surname can be translated as “teamster”) has his telling anecdotes ready, such as the Frenchman in Geneva who found the police at his door, because his maid had put the garbage cans out on the curb on the wrong day. Or the one waved off the road by a uniformed official for speeding, who finally tries to cut off the lecture he is receiving about his behavior by demanding “Stop this already, just write me the ticket!” only to be told “But I can’t do that, I’m just a mailman!” (Get it? Even the francophone Swiss are too much like the Germans, sticklers for the rules.)

For some, Routier recounts, it all becomes too much and they decide to give up the game and return to their homeland like prodigal sons. No problem, that’s quite possible – but an appointment with the tax authorities inevitably awaits!

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