Rich French Residents Flee Tyrannical Taxes, Seek Shelter in New York

chateau Rich French Residents Flee Tyrannical Taxes, Seek Shelter in New York

France: get out while you still can (Celine Aussourd, flickr)

Mon Dieu! Rather than redecorating their chateaus or contemplating the new Chanel collection, the French elite must now find places to stash their cash, now that the people have gone and elected that terrible Socialist François Hollande.

The taxman cometh, reports The New York Times, and wealthy Gauls are not standing around waiting for him to take their hard-earned euros. Non! Instead, the French are rushing to spend their money on Manhattan real estate.

Seriously, things have not been this bad for the rich since François Mitterrand was elected president.

Enter broker Benoît Pous-Bertran de Balanda, the descendant of a French general who fought for the Americans. Mr. de Balanda has taken up his ancestor’s mantle and is now helping the French elite win liberty and freedom for their fortunes in the promised land.

Mr. de Balanda reports that the elite are desperate to find safe havens for their euros. Hoarding real estate is, after all, preferable to paying the 75 percent taxes that Mr. Hollande is threatening to levy on any income over $1 million.

These are not Russian billionaires, mind you, but average Jean-Pauls, looking for properties between $500,000 and $5 million, according to brokers. Not the stratospherically rich for whom money means nothing, just normal rich, for whom money means everything.

“I have met a lot of French expatriates who are considering the option to stay in the U.S. for at least five years,” Mr. de Balanda told The Times. “They just want to wait, to wait and see what happens in France with taxes.”

He himself was among the French planning to wait out these dark times in the U.S.

Christophe Bourreau, a broker at Barnes International who also represents his countrymen, described the plight of one French couple who had considered buying in Cannes, but ultimately been forced to buy in Miami. Quelle Horreur!

“They feel like the new president is hunting the wealthy,” Mr. Bourreau told The Times,” but ultimately been forced to buy in Miami, “and that the sooner their money is out of France the better.”

And fleeing from fortune hunting peasants is almost a national past time, “preserving the French noble family meant pulling out when the going got tough,” as The Times aptly notes. Too true!

kvelsey@observer.com