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Le Tour de Finance – Autumn 2019

By Spectrum IFA - Topics: France, Le Tour de Finance
This article is published on: 5th December 2019

05.12.19

The latest event in the autumn leg of Le Tour De Finance, which was held on the 21st November at the magnificent Domaine du Seudre – 17240, was yet again a successful day with a broad range of subjects discussed by the international panel of financial experts.

Attendees, who were a mixture of existing clients of The Spectrum IFA Group and those wanting to hear more about the services and financial solutions available, had travelled both locally and from other regions nearby.

Brief introductory presentations were given by representatives from The Spectrum IFA Group, Prudential International, Tilney Asset Management and Currencies Direct. Discussion and an extensive Question and Answer segment then covered subjects including the recently introduced tax changes to Assurance Vie (the most tax efficient savings and investment vehicle available in France), the suitability of transferring UK pensions to HMRC recognised EU schemes, investment market performance and outlook, wills and estate planning and sterling to euro exchange rate direction (and the facilities available to help mitigate against exchange rate volatility).

Unsurprisingly, the ‘B’ word featured widely and although many answers are yet to be determined, attendees were left reassured that The Spectrum IFA Group and its partners were well informed on both the technical detail of Brexit and the practical implications for anyone living or working in France or indeed those thinking about making a permanent move to France.

Portability of financial products, such as Assurance Vie, for an expatriate returning to the UK, was another area of interest in the question and answer session and guests were provided with example scenarios regarding the flexibility that such investments offer.

The key message that came out of this event was the importance and benefit, even for the financially experienced, of seeking professional, independent advice. The audience was reminded, in these uncertain times, that it is critical to ensure that all aspects of our personal finances are properly structured, for both legitimacy within the French fiscal system and for maximum tax efficiency ahead of any potential changes in the months and years ahead.

Questions and discussions continued during an informal lunch, during which guests and speakers alike found no shortage of topical subjects for conversation. The day was wrapped up with our special guest speaker, Rusty Firmin, former SAS Special Forces training instructor and team leader at the 1980 Iranian embassy siege. Rusty spoke to our guests after lunch with a compelling first hand account of his experiences.

Feedback from the event has been very positive. One guest commented “I enjoyed the day thoroughly and found it both thought provoking and educational. The opportunity of being able to engage directly with the representative of those international companies was a valuable bonus.”

We are planning to hold further seminars in 2020 and will provide details on the Le Tour de Finance website. See www.ltdf.eu for further information.

Professional Women’s Network – Cote d’Azur

By Lorraine Chekir - Topics: Events, France, Professional Women's Network - Cote d'Azur
This article is published on: 25th October 2019

25.10.19

How Can We Make The Most From Our Money

PWN Nice Cote d’Azur is pleased to invite you to the event organised
with our partner EDHEC Business School:

Wednesday, November 6th

18.30 – 20.00 EDHEC Business School Campus, Nice.

Lorraine Chekir is the Treasurer for the Nice branch of the PWN and an International Financial Advisor with The Spectrum IFA Group, for the English speaking community on the Cote d’Azur and Var region. She helps and advises people on how to plan their investments and retirement planning tax efficiently based on their individual circumstances.

Lorraine will introduce the event and give a short introduction on the basics of financial planning. This will give you the basic tools on how to plan your finances in the most efficient, cost effective way to help grow your money for both your immediate, medium and longer term future.

Lorraine will introduce her two guest presenters, Holly Merriman and Harriette Collings who will cover the topics of:

  • Women Investing – why you should and how it can benefit you
  • The Investment Gap – what is it, how does it affect you and what can you do about it
  • The Pension Gap – Why does it exist, what changes you can make to Close your gap
  • Macro Economics – which will give an overview of the behavior and performance of the economy as whole and how this affects you and society as a whole

Everyone will have the opportunity to ask questions at the end of the presentations or a more private chat over a drink at the end.

This event is 15€ for PWN Members, 35€ for non-members, and Free to all EDHEC students. EDHEC students, please email Carmen at membership@pwnnice.net for your discount code.

We look forward to seeing you and learning with you on the 6th of November.

Holly Merriman

Holly Merriman
Tilney Group

Harriette Collings

Harriette Collings
Tilney Group

lorraine chekir

Lorraine Chekir
The Spectrum IFA Group

Understanding the Taxe Foncière

By Katriona Murray-Platon - Topics: France, Taxe Foncière
This article is published on: 19th October 2019

19.10.19

As the last quarter of the year approaches, there is one thing that is certain and that is that taxes are due. In September the final instalment of the income tax must be paid, in October the Taxe Foncière is due and in November the Taxe d’Habitation must be paid.

Taxe Foncière is a tax paid by property owners on the 1st January of each tax year. Note that it is paid by the owner not the occupant and applies to both buildings (houses or apartments) and land (agricultural or constructible).

If you sell your property or land, the tax liability for that year is apportioned to each party, by the notary, according to the timing of the sale.

You may qualify for an exemption if:

    • the property is a new construction used as a main residence (the exemption is for 2 years)
    • you are in receipt of disability allowance
    • you are in receipt of old age allowance
    • you are over 75 (depending on level of income)

The tax office may also allow an exemption for unoccupied property which is habitable and normally rented, provided that:

    • it is unintentionally unoccupied
    • it is unoccupied for at least 3 months
    • part or all of the building is unoccupied

However, as the tax reduction is not automatically granted, you have to apply for it and demonstrate that you qualify (with reference to the specific points above).

Taxe Foncière is based on rental value according to the land registry multiplied by a rate set by the local authorities – so rates differ depending on where the property is situated and from one year to the next.

Any building on your property that is a permanent fixture could result in an increase of your Taxe Foncière. If you install a swimming pool (sunk or semi-sunk) then this could increase your Taxe Foncière. You have 90 days to declare to the tax offices that you have installed a swimming pool but you could also be exempt from paying the Taxe Foncière for the first 2 years.

The tax office sometimes makes mistakes when calculating Taxe Foncière liabilities, in which case you should contact your local office to ask for an explanation and rebate. You have until the 31st December 2019 to challenge your 2018 calculation. Additionally, the tax office sometimes doesn’t apply exemptions for which you qualify.

You can contact the tax office via your online account on the impots.gouv.fr website or by email or letter sent by recorded post.

Paying your taxe foncière monthly spreads the costs throughout the year. You have to settle in full by the middle of October, so if you do pay monthly and the amount hasn’t changed this year, you will have nothing to pay in November and December.

The Changing Financial World

By Alan Watson - Topics: common reporting standards, France, Investments, ISAs
This article is published on: 18th October 2019

18.10.19

It was December 15th 1996; my wife and I were happy to be in Morzine and were enjoying dinner at hotel Les Airelles. Jean-Claude, the owner, was very attentive – we were his only guests! Heavy snow was falling, so the drive back to our home in Le Biot was a slow one, spotting just one other vehicle parked suspiciously in St Jean D’Aulps, the Gendarmes, who looked bemused that a Dutch plated car should mess up the untouched snow cover.

During Christmas I worked as usual in my IFA business covering Europe, but it was a stress free time; international clients had little to bother them, the main concern being market direction. The FCA did not exist; tax people were only after the big fish; even the Financial Ombudsman, for complaints, was years from formation; regulation was unheard of; QROPS transfers were an age away. The Isle of Man, Guernsey, Jersey, and of course Switzerland were the favourite hiding centres. Clients were happy to deposit large sums resulting from their global company contracts. Banks happily took in and paid out in cash, accepted transfers from third parties, and asked minimal questions to new arrivals in the beautiful French Alps; they were simply hungry for this amazing new flow of business. The financial world was a relaxed place, where large sums of “tax free” money could be transferred to the Notaries, who would inform the local land sellers that they had become wealthy; keys were given, dreams were realised and that much expanded supermarket just out of town saw the wine shelves emptying like never before. Travel businesses sprung up with sexy names like, “Utah snow and sun”, and their chalets were full the whole winter. The French tax people started to scratch their heads. Not only were local people driving back and forth through the Swiss border every day, but now a new irritation had arrived in town and some serious checking was necessary. The French Fisc. suddenly had many more employees, serious computer power, and somebody could apparently speak ENGLISH !

It’s now October 2019, my wife and I still love to eat in Morzine, but things have changed. Conversations with my clients all over the Rhone Alpes region take on a very different and focused tone. A global directive of information exchange requirements has shaken up the old world called CRS, “Common Reporting Standard”, which means the UK will exchange all financial, bank account, insurance policy and investment account information with France. Even that renowned haven of Swiss Private Bankers are happy to flood Europe’s tax offices with full financial disclosure information on former residents and clients. If that’s not enough, I regularly hear of clients being pestered by cold calling IFAs based in Paris, the south of France, even Dubai. The pleasure of being seen on social media! But now the approach is somewhat different, we have tight European regulation, or do we?

Making life changing investment decisions is a delicate operation. If somebody tells you they are part of XX group in Gibraltar, but due to “flexible” European financial regulation, they can passport, operate in France – beware: if things go wrong the UK, FCA or French regulator Orias will be unable to help you. A fully regulated French company holds the correct licenses and your chosen adviser should know French rules and regulations, preferably from many years experience in the region. Some individuals choose to keep a leg in the old country, just in case, but this half-half decision could cost you dearly. “Is a UK ISA tax efficient in France?” “My money is 100% Sterling, so impossible to move it over here.”

Your chosen IFA should know a great deal. Test their knowledge on markets, tax issues, currency movements/history, inheritance. Can they introduce you to competent local professionals? Moving from one country to another is a big step. Do make sure all fits into place, you should enjoy this wonderful region for years to come.

“Brexit proof” your investments using a top UK financial institution

By Sean Webb - Topics: Assurance Vie, France
This article is published on: 27th May 2019

27.05.19

If you are living in France, did you know that a certain large, household name
UK financial institution offers a product locally from Dublin based sister organisations? This product is both EU regulated and tax efficient in France, an Assurance Vie and it is in English.

As a result, should the UK leave the EU, you can still invest with a company whose name you know and trust in a tax efficient manner, in the country you now call home.

So what is Assurance Vie (AV)?
For Brits, an Assurance Vie could be viewed as a sort of ‘big ISA’. It is the tax wrapper ‘par excellence’ for French residents and for the French themselves. Most French families have them, even members of the current government, and at the end of February 2019 total holdings in AV stood at a whopping 1,798 billion EUR! So for the foreseeable future, AV is here to stay.

As a British expatriate resident in France you have a number of international AV policies available to you, all of which are Brexit-proof. Not only are such policies compliant in the European Union, but they work cross border in the UK, so you can take them with you if you change home again or return to Blighty. And while you continue to live in France you have the reassurance that your policy benefits from the advantages of French AV, but not subject to the potentially punitive Sapin II Law which could be used to block French AV policies.

What are the main advantages of international Assurance Vie?

1/ AV has liquidity advantages for better cash flow planning
• Regular withdrawals can be made, making it an ideal vehicle to provide income to compliment your pension and rental income.
• Unlike an investment in rental property, the capital from an AV policy can be obtained relatively simply, quickly – and also partially.
• Wealth Tax (IFI) applies to real estate assets but not financial assets held within an AV policy.

2/ AV takes the hassle and cost out of tax reporting and legal paperwork
• If your investment portfolio is unwrapped (i.e. held directly and outside of an AV tax wrapper), then all transactions must be reported when completing your French tax return. The French tax authorities require all calculations to be reported in Euros, regardless of the currency of the underlying investment, and may also request the translation of various documents. The option of paying an accountant or tax adviser may save time and simplify matters for you, but will increase expense.
• In contrast, if the investments are held within an AV policy, all transactions are grouped for the purposes of administrative and tax returns, regardless of how many purchases and sales of investments occur over the year.
• Also should your priorities change over the years, it is a simple procedure to alter your choice of who will benefit from the money when you pass on. Changing the beneficiary clause within an AV is a simple procedure, and certainly a lot easier and less costly than altering your will with a lawyer.
• Moreover, when the time comes, your beneficiaries need simply apply directly to the insurance company itself. There is no need to pass via a notary to access the funds, the release of which can otherwise be subject to delays especially in the case of complex successions or legal challenges.

3/ AV reduces capital gains tax and investment costs
• When a portfolio is ‘unwrapped’, the sale of any investment triggers tax at the full prevailing tax rate on the resultant gain realised. So, if a portfolio consists of 15-20 lines which are being regularly bought and sold, this can become a reporting nightmare.
• Worse still, it also means that amounts can be taxed, then taxed again, and this perhaps several times over the lifetime of the portfolio. The tax consequences that typically apply to directly held portfolios can become an important consideration for your investment manager, reducing the scope of investments they are likely to consider, therefore potentially hampering performance.
• In contrast, within an AV policy, income tax and capital gains tax are not applied as long as a withdrawal does not occur. Thus, investment funds growing within the tax wrapper accumulate gross and benefit from a ‘compounding effect’ over time.
• And when a withdrawal does occur, only the gain or growth element is subject to income tax, not the capital. The actual liability is determined by how long the policy has been in existence, with the rate payable reducing on a sliding scale which is progressively lower depending on the duration of the policy. After 8 years any withdrawal benefits from an annual tax free allowance of €4,600 of the gain for a single person (€9,200 for a married couple).
• Moreover, a discretionary managed investment portfolio held within a Dublin domiciled AV is not subject to VAT, representing substantial saving on investment management fees.

4/ AV has significant inheritance planning advantages
• Planning who benefits from your estate is complicated in France by the restrictions imposed by the Napoleonic Code. Leaving sums to an unrelated third party such as a friend or unadopted foster child can attract tax of up to a massive 60%, so taking advice is essential.
• In contrast, AV avoids French inheritance law, so any funds held within a contract are effectively taken out of the French succession process.
• Within an AV policy, any number of beneficiaries (related or not) can be appointed and a tax free allowance of €152,500 per beneficiary applies. Above that threshold, a rate of 20% is payable up to €700,000 after which a rate of 31.25% applies. These rates compare very favourably with those that apply outside the wrapper.

5/ AV is more secure than your bank account
• The least customers should be able to expect from their banks is that they are solid and secure, but all is still not well in the banking sector. Since the height of the financial crisis, which began in 2007-08, banks have come under pressure to put their houses in order. In spite of this, a number of big banks have weak balance sheets, and remain technically insolvent. This is not the case of the bigger insurance companies in reputable jurisdictions like Dublin and Luxemburg which are required to maintain minimum capital levels and liquidity ratios.
• There is also a potential risk of levy on client deposits. Customer savings are held on the bank balance sheets as liabilities, not ring-fenced and protected as they are with insurance companies in certain jurisdictions. Therefore, in the event of a bank failure or forced restructuring, customers’ deposits could be at risk, at least partially. Indeed, in the EU there exists a precedent when so-called ‘haircuts’ were taken from personal savings deposits during the Cyprus banking crisis of 2012-13.
• There is now an EU ‘bail-in’ law. On 1 January 2016 the Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive (BRRD) came into force across the EU confirming new bail-in regulations. In the event of a future banking crisis depositors could face having to foot at least part of the bill – in contrast to the government bank bail outs of 2007-2009, when taxpayers’ money was used.

In July 2017, the Financial Times reported that ‘Those who receive financial advice are on average £40,000 better off than those who don’t’. And significant savings can indeed be made on condition you have proper financial advice, solid investments and the right tax wrapper. So do not let Brexit hold you back. The time to make money and save costs is now. Get the right advice, and maybe you too could save £40,000!

The Spectrum IFA Group: A corporate partner, a generous friend

By Spectrum IFA - Topics: Belgium, corporate responsibility, France, Italy, Spain, Spectrum-IFA Group, Switzerland
This article is published on: 16th May 2019

16.05.19

As a small NGO, Street Child EU is always on the lookout to build relationships with corporate partners as a means of strengthening our long-term fundraising ambitions. We are always grateful when, after approaching an organisation, they take the time to contemplate our vision and give consideration for the potential benefits of our projects. Yet, even with our proven track-record, this is a competitive industry, and securing regular funding is a painstaking and uncertain process. Thankfully, every so often, we encounter a corporate organisation that immediately identifies with our philosophy and subsequently demonstrates an admirable commitment to transforming our ambitions into reality – The Spectrum IFA Group is one such case.

Over the years, this Financial Services Organisation, has shown an unwavering dedication to providing hope to some of the world’s most marginalised groups and disadvantaged children, their donations to Street Child thus far reached 14,000 € . Street Child’s relationship with The Spectrum IFA Group stretches back to 2016, when they provided us with a generous donation for our Girls Speak Out programme. This project was set in the difficult context of post-ebola Sierra Leone and Liberia. Our mission aimed to support at least 20,000 girls to access and sustainably remain in quality education. When The Spectrum IFA Group provided us with 3,750 € we could immediately family business grants for the Street Child team in the capital of Sierra Leone, central Freetown. This meant that 65 individual caregivers were given the means to protect and nurture the vulnerable children in their care. The grant also enabled an extra 65 girls and 65 of their siblings to attend school – totalling 130 children for whom education had previously been out of reach. Moreover, the donation has had a wider impact of providing an additional 195 family members with access to an increased income. Overall, this has been a great source of optimism in the community, wedging open a door of opportunity for future generations of children in Freetown.

In 2017, The Spectrum IFA Group once again willingly answered Street Child’s call to action by providing support for our Breaking the Bonds Project in Nepal. Street Child was implementing an ambitious plan to reverse the effects that decades of discrimination have inflicted upon the Musahar community. With a donation of 5,000 € we made great strides in our efforts to free Musahars from bonded labour and disrupt this cycle of poverty. The donation has enabled 27 Musahar girls to complete our livelihoods support program which, through a careful combination of business skills training and life skills workshops, has given these Musuhars the resources and skills needed to propel them towards economic independence. In 2018, The Spectrum IFA Group reiterated their support for the Musahar community by donating an extra 3,000 € to the cause.

This organisation has always been interested in receiving project updates from the field, and we have always happy to oblige with photographs and case studies. They have kindly used these materials to show off during presentations at company events, encouraging even more donations by The Spectrum IFA Group’s staff. It is important for us that our corporate partners show off the projects they have funded with this kind of pride. It is important that corporate organisations engage with NGOs out of a genuine interest in social progress and The Spectrum IFA Group clearly does so.

All to often corporate partnerships cannot stand the test of time, but the relationship between The Spectrum IFA Group and Street Child is strong and looks set to stay. We have already shared positive initial conversations in relation to our new project in Afghanistan and furthermore, an extra 2000 € donation already indicated for a new Musahar project. We are tremendously grateful for the trust and support The Spectrum IFA Group has continuously offered us. Our experience with The Spectrum IFA Group is a testament to the fact that the NGOs and Corporate organisations can positively bridge the gap between these differing industries in order to pursue a common goal.

1

Soti, a Musahar in Nepal has benefitted from business skills training to establish a steady income for herself and her children.

2

In Central Freetown, Sierra Leone, Aminata been supported through the Girls Speak Out programme. She can now attend School regularly and has aspirations to one day become a teacher

*Note: The names of individuals have been changed to protect their privacy and identity

Why is it important to have regular financial reviews?

By Amanda Johnson - Topics: Financial Planning, Financial Review, France
This article is published on: 15th March 2019

15.03.19

Finding time in our busy schedules for reviewing our financial position is not always easy; however, here are some reasons why it is worth the effort and considerations in choosing who you should see.

1/ Living in France, it is important to check that you are both tax compliant and tax efficient, through proper use of savings allowances and being up to date on current tax rules.

2/ Using a company that is regulated here in France means that your advice is specifically relevant to France.

3/ Choosing a financial adviser who is also an expatriate means there are no language barriers and you both understand the experience of what it is like to have moved countries.

4/ Personal circumstances can change and regular reviews will make sure your finances are in line with your current needs. For example, you may have recently retired, be experiencing a change in your income or have just become a French resident.

The long and complicated relationship with social charges

By Katriona Murray-Platon - Topics: France, Social Charges
This article is published on: 12th February 2019

12.02.19

Most people accept that when you live in a country you have to pay local taxes. Equally, most people can understand the fact that in order to get social benefits such as unemployment benefits and healthcare, you have to pay social security contributions. France, on the other hand, has another tax: social charges, which isn’t actually called a tax, but in fact operates very much like a tax.

Social charges were first introduced in 1991 and have been much grumbled about by French tax payers and expats living in France. It is not one social charge, but is made up of various types of social charges, the rates and combined rate of which has increased progressively over the years. Social charges are taken from all types of income, but where they have caused the most problems is the social charges on capital and rental income, especially for non-resident tax payers.

In 2015, following a challenge by a Dutch national, Mr De Ruyter, the European Court of Justice held that the social charges on rental and capital income were not a tax but a social security contribution and that an EU national should not be required to pay social charges in France when they are paying or have paid social security contributions in their own Member State. The French Administrative Court, the Conseil d’Etat then confirmed that decision and orders were issued to the French tax offices to reimburse the social charges paid to non-resident EU nationals or resident EU nationals who were covered for their health insurance by another EU system (under the S1 form, for example). This led to hundreds of thousands of pounds being reimbursed for the tax years 2012, 2013 and 2014.

In an effort to resolve the problem of the drop in funds being collected, in 2016 the French government changed the allocation of the social charges from rental and capital income so that they were no longer paid to the social security body, but to the Old Age Solidarity Fund and the Social Debt Depreciation Fund. Therefore, claims could not be made on income earned in 2015 taxable in 2016 or on capital gains from 2016 onward. This was a bit of last minute shuffle to seemingly comply with the European judgment, however the legal grounds of this abrupt turnaround were questionable.

On 31st May 2018, the Nancy Administrative Court of Appeal held that even these social charges should not apply to those covered by another EU Member State social security scheme. This meant that the major part of the social charges (14.5%) should be refunded. Although this decision has been referred to the European Court for a ruling and has yet to be confirmed by the Conseil d’Etat, claims for 2016 and 2017 should be made now to avoid being time barred later (2015 is time barred as of 31st December 2018).

Whether or not it is because the French government is expecting the European Court of Justice to rule against them again, the Law on Social Security Financing of 2019 has now entered into force, stating that tax payers who do not rely on the French social security system for their healthcare, but on a healthcare system of another EU Member State, Iceland, Norway, Lichtenstein or Switzerland, are exempt from the CSG and CRDS on capital and rental income. Social charges in general have been reorganised so that, as of 1st January 2019 there are only the CSG and CRDS. However a new social charge has been introduced called the “Prélèvement Solidaire” at a rate of 7.5%, which means that the total amount is the same as last year at 17.2%. Under the Social Security Financing Law of 2019 those not reliant on the French State for health cover, as described above, only have to pay this 7.5% social charge.

An Order published on 7th February 2019 by the French parliament on the situation of Brits in France in case of a No Deal Brexit has stated that all current healthcare arrangements would be maintained for a period of 2 years following the Brexit. Although this is good news, it is subject to the UK reciprocating the same rights and guarantees.

Whilst no one knows what the final Brexit outcome may be, it would still be worth getting in touch with a financial adviser to review your investments and see how you can benefit from these new tax changes.

The PAYE system – and so it it begins!

By Katriona Murray-Platon - Topics: France, PAYE in France
This article is published on: 4th February 2019

04.02.19

Earlier last year I wrote about France’s plans to bring in a PAYE system as from 1st January 2019. Now that we are in January, we can see the effects of this new system. French pensioners and employees may have had the tax deducted from their salaries/pensions in December 2018 if the payment was made 1st January but for many people the effects of this new system will appear by the end of this month. Self-employed business owners, landlords and those with foreign sourced income will have to make monthly or quarterly tax payments. The difference with the previous system is that last year your quarterly or monthly payment was to pay towards your income tax for 2017 paid in 2018 whereas this year the payments are not for the 2018 tax but for the 2019 tax only.

If you go onto your account at impots.gouv.fr you can go into the menu for “gerer mon prélévement à la source”. This will show you your joint rate, if you and your partner chose one, or your individual rates. For those receiving French pensions and on French payroll, you will see a percentage of how much will be deducted from the income after social charges (so the “net imposable”). Going forward you will be able to see how much and when the tax was deducted. The applicable rate already takes into consideration the 10% tax abatement on salaries and pensions.

The main advantage of this new system is to allow the tax payer to inform the tax office of any changes to his personal situation such as a wedding, a divorce, a birth or death. In the “Gerer mon prélevement à la source page” you can declare any changes to your personal situation, change your tax rate or increase your tax payments. For those paying tax monthly or quarterly, you can change the frequency of your payments to monthly (if you paid quarterly) or to quarterly.

If your income has significantly decreased or the applicable rate is too high you can easily inform the tax office via the website. For French pensions and salaries, if the tax is reduced by more than 10% or 200 euros per year, the tax office will change your tax rate and inform your employer or pension provider within 1-2 months. The rate for income that is not taxed at source was calculated on the income declared for 2017. This amount, after the applicable abatement, was then divided into 12 monthly payments or 4 quarterly payments.

The annual tax declaration must still be completed between April and June. This declaration is to allow you to declare any income that is not taxed at source, any allowable expenses and any tax reductions or credits. The tax rate or amount will be adjusted once the tax return is completed in May 2019 and the tax calculation is carried out in September 2019.

Those receiving tax credits (home help, child care, etc) will have received an advance payment into their bank accounts in January. There will be an additional tax credit when the tax is calculated in September 2019 which will cancel some of the tax payable 2018 to avoid people paying 2018 and 2019 all in the same year.

Capital income is not taxed at source. They are subject to the set rate of 12.8% unless the marginal rate has been opted for. Assurance vie payments will be taxed according to the rules in place when the policy was set up. All assurance vies set up or topped up after 27th September 2017 and/or under 150,000 euros, may be taxed at the 35%, 15% or 7.5% rates as before or the marginal rate, in addition to the 17.2% social charges.

If you have recently arrived in France, there will be no tax to pay until you complete your first tax return between April and June of this year. You should make sure that you get your French tax forms early in April, do not expect them to be sent to you. You will not be able to complete your tax return online so you will have to file a paper return.

Whereas the French tax rules were complicated previously, even though this new system is designed to simplify things, it is going to take a while to get used to. For complete peace of mind, it is best to get in touch with a good financial adviser who will be able to carry out a free financial review and assist you in making the best tax efficient decisions.

French Tax Changes 2019

By Sue Regan - Topics: Assurance Vie, France, Income Tax, Tax, tax advice, Tax Relief
This article is published on: 31st January 2019

31.01.19

2019 has brought a number of changes to the French tax system. Below is a summary of the principal changes affecting personal taxation.

INCOME TAX (Impôt sur le Revenu)
There has been no change to the rates of income tax of the barème scale, but the tax bands have been increased as follows:

Income Tax Rate
Up to €9,964 0%
€9,965 to €27,519 14%
€27,520 to €73,779 30%
€73,780 to €156,244 41%
€156,245 and over 45%

PAYE (Prélèvement à la Source)
PAYE has been introduced in France with effect from 1st January 2019.
The types of income subject to PAYE include:

  • Income from employment
  • Retirement income, including UK private and State pensions, but excluding certain pensions where tax is already deducted at source, such as UK Civil Service pensions
  • Rental income, including that from French properties owned by people who are not resident in France.

For French source income, the employer or pension provider will deduct the tax at source.

Clearly, where income is generated from outside of France there can be no deduction at source by the French authorities. This means that many expatriates living in France will be subject to a monthly withholding tax on their income. Therefore, starting in January 2019, the tax authorities will collect a sum equal to 1/12th of the tax paid in 2018 (based on income declared for 2017).

Excluded from PAYE is investment income, such as bank interest, dividends, capital gains and gains from life assurance policies.

New residents of France who have not yet submitted a French tax return, will have the option of paying a sum ‘on account’, or be taxed in May 2020, following submission of their first tax return.

Everyone will still be required to submit a French tax return in the May of the following year. Thereafter, the final assessment of tax liability will be carried out, and you will either receive a tax refund or be required to pay any additional tax due, over a four-month period.

If you do not currently pay any income tax, you will not be required to pay provisional monthly payments. Similarly, if you anticipate a significant change to your income during the course of the year you can request that the tax authority alter your tax code. However, if you do so, and your income is 10% greater than advised, you could face a tax penalty of at least 10%.

REFORM OF SOCIAL CHARGES (Prélèvements Sociaux)
Some changes have been introduced to certain social charges, which is good news for some taxpayers.

The main rates for social charges remain the same as for 2018, i.e.:

Source of income Rate
Pension 9.1%
Investment and property rental 17.2%
Employment 9.7%

 

Social Charges on Pension Income
The exemption from social charges on pension income still applies if you hold the EU S1 Certificate or if France is not responsible for the cost of your healthcare.

However, those pensioners who do not satisfy the exemption conditions above, but whose pension income is less than €2,000 per month (or €3,000 for a couple), will now pay a lower rate of 7.4% on pension income.

Social Charges on Investment Income and Capital Gains
From 1st January 2019, individuals covered under the health care system of another EU or EEA country are no longer subject to the existing rate of 17.2% on investment income or capital gains. Instead they will now pay a new flat rate of 7.5%. This new flat rate is known as the ‘Prélèvement de Solidarité’ and represents a saving of 9.7%. It applies to investment income, such as property rentals, bank interest, dividends and withdrawals from ‘assurance vie’ policies, and capital gains realised by both residents and non-residents of France.

In summary, taxpayers can benefit from the new 7.5% rate on investment income if:

  • They hold the EU S1 Certificate
  • They are a non-resident of France earning French source income (i.e. rental income, capital gains on the sale of a French property, etc) and are covered by the health system of another EU or EEA country

ASSURANCE VIE
There are no changes to ‘assurance vie’ apart from the social charges reform detailed above which will benefit some policyholders.
For policies held for more than eight years, the annual allowance remains at €4,600 for individuals and €9,200 for married/PACS couples.

This outline is provided for information purposes only based on our understanding of current French tax law. It does not constitute advice or a recommendation from The Spectrum IFA Group to take any particular action to mitigate the effects of any potential changes in French tax legislation.

If you would like to discuss how these changes may affect you, please do not hesitate to contact your local Spectrum IFA Group adviser.