James Blunt Planning Swiss Move

VERBIER, Switzerland (January 17, 2007) — British singer James Blunt plans to move to an exclusive Swiss ski resort, local officials said Wednesday.

Patrick Messeiller, director of tourism for Verbier, confirmed a report in the Swiss daily Le Matin that Blunt, who is a frequent visitor to the mountain village, had registered with the tax office there.

Blunt, 32, is the latest celebrity to move to the alpine nation. French rock legend Johnny Hallyday took up residence in nearby Gstaad last month.

Hallyday’s move prompted a heated debate in France about rich people and multinational companies fleeing the country for Switzerland because of low taxation there.

But Messeiller wouldn’t comment on whether Blunt would receive similar preferential tax treatment as Hallyday. “That’s a private matter,” he said.

Each Swiss canton (state) sets its own tax rates, and can cut special deals with wealthy foreigners that allow them to pay only a fraction of what they would have to pay elsewhere.

London’s Daily Mirror reported last year that Blunt, a former tank commander in the British army, earned $9.8 million with his 2005 album “Back to Bedlam,” released by Atlantic Records.

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