In my last article from early November 2017 I set out the proposed French tax changes for 2018. After some fine-tuning of the proposals the actual changes came into effect from 1 January this year, the most noticeable of which were the introduction of the Flat tax on revenue from capital, and the replacement of the Wealth tax (Impôt de Solidarité sur la Fortune, or ISF) previously levied on total assets, with the new Impôt sur la Fortune Immobilier (IFI). You can read a summary of these and other changes by accessing the following link on our website: French Tax Changes
So, at the time of writing, with “the Beast from the East” sweeping its way across most of Europe last week, you would be forgiven for thinking we are still in the depths of winter rather than into the first month of spring. Spring is my favourite time of year. With any luck things will settle down to normality very soon and we will be enjoying the longer, warmer days with the spring flowers in abundance and the sense of anticipation that summer is just around the corner.
BUT… (of course, there has to be a BUT) along with spring come the, oh so loved, blue and pink Tax Return forms that will be arriving in our post boxes very soon. Over the last couple of years my Spectrum colleagues and I have been writing about the existence of the Common Reporting Standards (CRS) that are now well and truly in operation, whereby financial institutions of the EU and many non-EU countries around the world are exchanging financial information in order to combat tax evasion. If you have been receiving letters from your bank or investment providers asking for your country of residence and Tax Identification Number (TIN) – this is why.
Thus, if you are French resident, it is very important that you declare the existence of all bank accounts, assurance vie policies and any other income generating investments held outside of France, even if you do not draw on the income. Failure to do so can result in severe penalties – €1,500 for each undisclosed bank account or policy (which increases to €10,000 if this is held in an uncooperative State that has not concluded an agreement with France to provide administrative assistance to exchange tax information). Furthermore, if the total value of the bank accounts and policies not declared is at least €50,000, then the fine for each is increased to 5% of the value of the account or policy if greater than €1,500 (€10,000 if in an uncooperative State).
You can make the declaration by listing the information on plain paper and attaching it to your Tax Return. Even bank accounts with a nil balance should be reported. In addition, if you have closed any foreign bank accounts during 2017, the accounts should be reported and the date of closure mentioned.
Unless you will be submitting a Tax Return for the first time (in which case you must complete a paper return) you are required to submit on-line in 2018 if your net taxable income (revenu fiscal de référence) in 2016 was greater than €15,000. However, you are granted an exemption from this requirement if you do not have an internet connection at your home. There are plans for paper based declarations to be completely obsolete by next year.
If you need to complete the pink form for anything other than pension, then perhaps you may be paying unnecessary taxes and therefore might benefit from a review of your financial situation. So don’t wait until May to gather all the information together, make a start now and get organised so that any action needed can be identified and taken care of before the “silly summer season” is upon us – it’ll be here before you know it!