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Business

Chancellor Calls Tax Evaders “Unpatriotic”

German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder has sparked a furious debate with comments that Germans who move abroad to avoid paying hefty taxes in Germany are "unpatriotic." Schröder told the Sunday newspaper Bild am Sonntag that Theo Müller, the head of a German dairy producer who is considering moving to Switzerland, "ruins my taste for yogurt." "These people take advantage of all the facilities and pleasures of the country paid for by taxes," the chancellor added. "They think, ‘Others should pay for things I use’. These people are unpatriotic. You can’t have a nation with people like that. We can’t place restrictions on anyone’s mobility but we should, as a society, condemn this behavior." The chancellor’s remarks have been criticized by taxpayers’ and business associations, who say Schröder should change the existing tax system so that Germans come back, rather than calling them "unpatriotic." Hans-Olaf Henkel, former head of the German industry association, said: "Instead of socially ostracizing law-abiding Germans who live abroad, the chancellor should create conditions so that they come back home." Writing in a column for daily Bild, he added, "That would be patriotic." Prominent Germans, who have departed for tax havens such as Switzerland include tennis ace Boris Becker, footballer Franz Beckenbauer, pharmaceutical billionaire Curt G. Engelhorn and motor racing brothers Michael and Ralf Schumacher.