Superstar soccer player Zinedine Zidane, who became famous for once head-butting another player during the 2006 World Cup, has defended a plan by France’s new President Francois Hollande to significantly raise the taxes on wealthy citizens.
I have never had a problem with paying my taxes, of handing over 50 centimes for every euro earned, Zidane told Le Monde’s ‘M’ magazine.
However, as a resident of Spain, the French-Algerian football legend does not pay taxes in France.
I don't live in France but I don't live in a tax haven, he explained.
I live in Spain; I pay my taxes like everyone. Today, with what's happening [the euro zone crisis], they are going to ask for money from people who have it. It's logical.”
Over the next 18 months, Hollande is seeking to raise taxes by €29 billion in order to reduce France’s deficit to 4.5 percent of GDP by next year.
To that end, Hollande wants to slap a 75 percent tax rate on those Frenchmen earning in excess of €1 million per year – according to French media, about 150 French football players would fall into this high tax bracket.
And some of them are not happy about it.
Christophe Jallet, a defender for Paris Saint-Germain lamented: It's shooting successful people in the foot.”
While the majority of the French public supports the high tax rate for millionaires, some fear that it could lead a mass exit from the country by the well-heeled.
During the G20 summit meeting in Mexico, British Prime Minister alluded to this possibility and caused uproar of sorts by saying that Britain would welcome wealthy French tax exiles, whom, he said, could help pay for our health service and schools and everything else.
As for the retired Zidane, he is believed to have a net worth of some $70 million. In 2001, when he was transferred from Italy’s Juventus F.C. club to Real Madrid of Spain, he received a four-year contract valued at €66 million, making him the highest paid soccer player in history up to that point.
As a resident of Spain, the highest tax rate for the wealthiest earners have been raised to 52 percent from 45 percent, according to Spanish accounting firm, Advoco.
Interestingly, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has urged the Spanish government to raise taxes even further in order to deal with its own debt crisis, suggesting Zidane may be coughing up even more euros himself.