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  • It could be the name of a television programme about the trials and tribulations of unmarried couples living in or owning assets in another country. What happens to couples who either decide that marriage is not their 'cup of tea', or who cannot get married for some reason? Should those who don’t take the plunge be excluded from buying or living in France? Fortunately not: thanks to PACS (French civil partnership) legislation introduced in France in 1999 and the recent EU regulation 2016/1104 to supporting cooperation in jurisdiction, applicable law and the recognition and enforcement of decisions in matters relating to registered partnerships, unmarried couples need not worry about investing in French property, whether they intend to move permanently or simply enjoying a holiday home. However, it is key to decide the approach for unmarried couples to buy in France without being hit by potentially dreadful inheritance tax implications. Estate planning: Keep civil law and tax law separate The EU regulation on succession law permits a person to choose a different legislation on the settlement of his estate. However, tax law is different, because you cannot choose which country decides how much tax you pay on your estate – your country of residence usually, but not always, has the right to tax your worldwide estate. Each country has a different system, and in some cases, this can be mitigated by a double tax treaty: France is well known for its tax system, which lead many celebrities and wealthy individuals to leave France to reduce their income or inheritance tax exposure. For unmarried couples, their partner will be taxed at 60% on any inheritance received from their deceased partner. However, should they opt for any kind of nationality or residence-based registered partnership, they can benefit from a full exemption of inheritance tax, providing they have a will in place: the will is the condition that allows a registered partner to benefit from the same inheritance tax exemption as a spouse in France. However, some people are reluctant to enter into a registered partnership. In this case, it’s wise to explore options for purchasing property while paying the least inheritance tax possible. Estate planning can be complicated Every case is different, so the following options may not apply to all unmarried couples However, here’s a simple example to illustrate how inheritance tax can be reduced. Our couple is in their 50s and in good health, and each has children from previous relationships. They’ve been together for several years, and while they don’t want to marry, they want to buy a property in France together: in the shorter-term, it will be a second residence or holiday home, but potentially they may use it as their main residence in later years. The property that they found is worth 300,000€ and they will pay in cash. Both have their finances in place to pay their share of the price. Indivision structure Whether or not you’re married, the structure of ownership is important. It will directly affect the transfer of ownership of your French property after death, if you do not have a ‘correct will’ in place: that is, one that will fully apply in France and be unrestricted by French inheritance rules: French law operates a strict statutory right for children, so a choice of law in your will is essential to protect your wishes, in the presence of children. Often, unmarried couple – or even married couples – enter into a ‘tenancy in common’ (indivision), as they have not considered or actively addressed French inheritance rules when buying property. This structure is the most common vehicle used by the French, so you need to understand its implications. Most inheritance questions and concerns can (and should) be resolved before the transfer of ownership after a death of one of the partners. When it comes to settling an estate in France, partners are considered to be strangers to each other: unless the deceased has made provisions in their will, their surviving partner may not be eligible to inherit a single ‘stone’ of the deceased’s share in the property. If they are, they may have to pay inheritance tax at a rate of 60%. However, if you consider civil law, by excluding the tax implications of owning a property in joint names, with a will bequeathing your life interest of your share to your partner, this will be sufficient to allow them to enjoy it during their lifetime. Life interest is a right which should be taxable at a flat rate of 60% between partners, but the figure will be calculated upon the age of the survivor and tax table that you can find in the French tax code. • For instance, if the survivor is 55 years old, the life interest will represent 50% of the deceased's share of the value. • In our example, the survivor would be liable for a tax of 150,000€ x 50% (life interest) x 60% (IHT) = 45,000€ • Alternatively, the deceased would have provided full ownership of his share of the property by electing a choice of law. The IHT, in that case, will be 90,000€. We can already establish that providing a simple life interest, which may be sufficient if the relationship is good with the deceased’s children, reduces tax from 90,000€ to 45,000€. Tontine clause Another structure that partners have used for a few decades is the Clause Tontine which, also works for married couples under a specific matrimonial regime (separation of ownership). This concept is simple. After the first death the property is deemed to belong to the surviving spouse retrospectively from completion. The equivalent in the UK is the joint tenancy. Again, the survivor will be liable for a tax bill at a rate of 60% on the share that is transferred to him. In our case it will be 90,000€. This structure must be carefully used because it may not often be adequate for unmarried couple, as well as married couple, with children from a previous relationship. Indeed, the indivision and Tontine vehicles will not trigger any tax if our couple decided to enter into a registered partnership and write a simple basic will. Life insurance policies Life insurance - known as Assurance vie in France - is often used for estate planning purposes, because it’s a secured investment that provides capital and interest upon the death of the policyholder(s). A major advantage is that it will be excluded from your estate and exempt from French inheritance tax, as long as it was taken out before your 70th birthday. Any sum paid into the life insurance policy after 70 will be included in your estate (article 757 B of the tax code). Life insurance payments are subject to a ‘suis generis’ tax, pursuant article 990 I of the Tax code: the rate is 20% from 152,500€ up to 700,000€ and 31.25% above this threshold. The beneficiaries of a policy also benefit from a general threshold of 152,500€ before applying any tax. In our example from earlier, we established that the survivor could be subject to an inheritance bill of either 45,000€ or 90,000€. However, if this couple invest some savings (if they are able to), they could transfer a tax-free sum via a life insurance policy to their beneficiary to enable them to pay the inheritance tax. Keep in mind that your savings and any bank accounts are also subject to French inheritance tax if the deceased is a French tax resident at the time of death, so rather than leaving a sum of – let’s say 120,000€ - in a basic savings account, our couple could have transferred it into a life insurance policy, so upon their death the sum would be paid tax-free to the survivor, named as the beneficiary of the policy (152,5000€ tax threshold – 120,000€ policy = 0€ IHT to pay). Hopefully this shows the importance of considering in estate planning. Adventures in French law If you want to be more creative, there are other vehicles available to purchase properties in France. A dismemberment of ownership is another solution. The property of a real property can be “dismembered” between the life interest on one hand and the bare ownership on the other hand. Both purchasers acquire a different legal right, life interest (usufruit) on one side and the bare ownership (nue-propriété) on the other side. Only the bare owner will eventually become the full owner of the property, inheritance tax free, when the life interest extinguishes. However, for this acquisition the main question is who buys what? Finally, the company structure can be an alternative. It is a structure that will require particular advice but can be the solution to avoid the payment of 60% between partners. If correctly drafted, the transfer of shares can be subject to a stamp duty of 5% only. In our scenario, our unmarried couple could transfer the full ownership to the remaining shareholder with a cost of only 7,485€ rather than 45,000€ or 90,000€. As you have seen, French law is complicated – but its complexity offers multiple options to adapt to each situation. This means that unmarried couples can follow their dream of owning a property in France and potentially even move to France without fear of the French tax regime. In theory, there will be 60% of inheritance tax to pay; however, with some guidance, this can be reduced or even avoided.
    14/05/2021 0 Comments

    It could be the name of a television programme about the trials and tribulations of unmarried couples living in or owning assets in another country.

    What happens to couples who either decide that marriage is not their 'cup of tea', or who cannot get married for some reason? Should those who don’t take the plunge be excluded from buying or living in France?It could be the name of a television programme about the trials and tribulations of unmarried couples living in or owning assets in another country.

    What happens to couples who either decide that marriage is not their 'cup of tea', or who cannot get married for some reason? Should those who don’t take the plunge be excluded from buying or living in France? 

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  • France Tax Law
    08/04/2021 - France Tax Law 0 Comments
    Post-Brexit Changes That Property Owners in France Need to Know

    Brexit – UK's departure from the European Union has stirred some concerns among British nationals with second homes in France and other countries under the union. Even when the UK has completed its separation from the European Union back on December 31, many are still left wondering what would happen next.

    This uncertainty is often accompanied by the fear that they might have to sell their property, as post-Brexit changes could lead to their second homes being seized by the government. But these claims are nothing but fearmongering campaigns that have unfortunately plagued both sides of the debate back in 2017.

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  • newsletter, france, brexit, capital gain tax, notaire's fees, french law, french inheritance tax, french inheritance law, purchase of a property in france, SCI, societe civile immobiliere
    16/01/2021 0 Comments

    Welcome to our first newsletter of the year


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  • France Tax Law
    21/12/2020 - France Tax Law 0 Comments
    Where Can I Financially Benefit from Relocating?

    As anyone who’s investigated the area will know, your choice of tax residency can have a huge impact on how your assets are treated. Whether you’re thinking about civil or tax law, you may be surprised by how beneficial it can be to change where your residency is registered. As experts in providing clients with effective, helpful services, we are perfectly placed to offer advice for those thinking of making the change.

    Read on through our blog to see what some countries offer to clients like you.

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  • capital gain tax, CRDS,CSG, sale of a French property, tax to pay in france, capital gain
    30/11/2020 0 Comments

    The French tax authorities have confirmed that from the 1st January 2021, the UK will be considered as a third state in the EU.

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  • 23/11/2020 - 0 Comments

    The decree 2020-1422 dated the 20th November 2020, introducing the signing of an authentic power of attorney outside the Notaire’s office, came into force on the 22nd November 2020 for an unlimited period. This is a good news for those who have to have an authentic power of attorney for the signing of their deed in France.


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  • brexit, french residency, french law, british residency in france
    31/10/2020 0 Comments

    I HAVE REPRODUCED BELOW THE ENTIRE PAGE OF THE FRENCH HOME OFFICE. YOU CAN EITHER FOLLOW THE LINK  https://contacts-demarches.interieur.gouv.fr/brexi... OR READ THE CONTENT THAT WAS COPIED FROM THE HOME OFFICE. This is not an article but only a reproduction of the French home office

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  • compromis de vente, french mortgage, retractation, notaire, french law, french property purchase, purchase of a french property, promesse de vente, french renovation
    21/10/2020 0 Comments

    A recent decision from High Cour of Justice (Cour de Cassation) dated the 1st July 2020 confirmed that the purchaser of a property, who undertook some renovation work before completing, does so at its own risk. 


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  • 26/09/2020 0 Comments
    inheritance plans

    My latest contribution to the living magazine

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  • estate agent, french property purchase. mandat de vente, french estate agent, compromis de vente, commission estate agent, france, promesse de vente, mandat exclusif de vente
    06/09/2020 0 Comments

    The purchase of a property can be done privately directly

    with the property owner or through the intermediate role of an estate agent.
    When you purchase through an estate agent, you know that there will be a
    commission in order to pay the agent for his work.  

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  • french will, choice of law, EU regulation, french inheritance law, french inheritance tax, wills in France, make a will, estate planning in France, surviving spouse in France, code civil in France, Notaire and wills,
    25/04/2020 0 Comments

    For nearly five years (since 17th August 2015), international private law regarding succession has come into force in the 27 countries of the European Union that have ratified it. However, there are still some interrogations necessary. If choosing the law that is applicable to your estate is possible, then the European text also provides for an implicit choice which must be used with precautions

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  • 06/02/2020 - FRANCE TAX LAW 0 Comments
    Cooling off period and post office

    The cooling-off period, which was introduced after the law dated 13th December 2000 and amended by the law Macron dated 6th august 2015, provides that a

    non-professional purchaser can withdraw from the contract within a period of ten days starting "from the day after the first notice by the post office”. Notaires and estate agents tend to send contracts duly signed by the parties to each purchaser by registered post without worrying whether or not the recipient of the letter is the actual purchaser.
    A recent court case dated 12th October 2017 brought a new position regarding the validity of a cooling off period signed by a third party.

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  • inheritance, french inheritance, reserve, surviving spouse, life interest, nue-propriete, tax, double tax treaty, england france
    29/01/2020 - Francetaxlaw 0 Comments

     The settlement of an estate involving French assets will not only be complicated because of the language barrier but also due to the differences between the legal systems. British citizens who own a property in France or who have moved to France often wonder how their estate will be shared between their beneficiaries. What are the rules without a will? Does a will made many years ago still fully apply in France?

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  • 25/01/2020 - FRANCETAXLAW 0 Comments

    BREXIT will take place on 31 January 2020. As from the 1st February 2020, the UK will no longer be part of the European Union and will not be a member of the EEA either. As it stands, British residents and all companies having their head office in the United Kingdom selling a property located in France will be required to appoint a tax representative.

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  • PACS, civil partnership, inheritance law, france, pacte civil de solidarite, French succession law
    23/12/2019 0 Comments

    The PACS, contrary to the Civil Partnership Act 2004, is a contract made by two adults to the same or opposite sex to organise their lives. Like the Civil Partnership Act 2004 the PACS sets out the rights and duties of partners and requires formalities regarding the registration and termination.

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  • an image of a key latched to a keyhole of a door
    20/10/2019 - Francetaxlaw 0 Comments

    Any foreign nationals can buy a property in France as a secondary or main residence. The French system of conveyancing law is different and despite being as safe as the English one, the legislation and practice are different. This is a stressful time for everybody due to the fact that they are not only dealing with a foreign legal system but also a foreign language. 

    The conveyancing itself is not complicated but will still require attention to make sure that you do not find out any pitfalls before completing it. As a
    purchaser, it is normal that you focus on the purchase, sometimes to the detriment of estate planning. Buying and having estate planning at the same
    time can be useful and prevent any unexpected issues in the long term.

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    01/10/2019 - FRANCE TAX LAW 0 Comments

    When somebody wishes to create a business in France, he will have the option of operating under a company structure or as a sole trader. Both options have pros and cons and the nature of the business will determine which structure, but also, which tax regime to choose.



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  • compromis de vente
    23/07/2019 0 Comments
    Compromis de vente V Promesse unilaterale de vente

    When two parties intend to enter into an agreement for a property transaction, they first sign a sale agreement to agree on the price and the terms and conditions of the sale. Whether you have an Estate agent or Notaire preparing the contract, they will both have to explain to the parties that this contract can take the form of a unilateral promise of sale (promesse unilaterale de vente), or that of a binding contract (compromis de vente).

    The question will be the opportunity for the parties to choose the form best suited for their transaction. Indeed, under different circumstances, the parties may prefer one form rather than the other.

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  • a picture of wedding rings atop a wooden bench
    22/07/2019 0 Comments

    Q: My Belgian partner and I (a UK national) are considering getting married or having a PACS later this year here in France. I've heard of recent law change regarding matrimonial regimes and PACS, can you explain them?

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  • an image of a open letter containing the word newsletter
    02/07/2019 - FRANCE TAX LAW 0 Comments

    Welcome to our July issue and to our new subscribers, last month I attended the annual Notaires’ conference, that took place in Brussels. What a perfect

    place to discuss this year’s topic: International law - Family and Estate planning. The conference is always a very good opportunity to discuss our
    practise, experience and exchange information with professionals, lawyers, University professors. Four committees composed of Notaires work on a subject in connection with the topic and propose relevant suggestions to make the Law evolve.

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  • a notebook with a page containing the word planning
    29/04/2019 - FRANCE TAX LAW 0 Comments

    This month our article is quite different. Instead of treating a specific area of Notarial law, we have provided our readers with a practical case.

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  • an image of a open letter containing the word newsletter
    01/04/2019 - FRANCE TAX LAW 0 Comments

    Welcome to our March issue. The past few weeks have been rich in reflections on Brexit and it does not make our life easier when we have to advise our clients on international matters. International private law is part of our work on a daily basis.

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  • a hand writing the word tax on a chequebook
    18/03/2019 0 Comments
    French residency

    The concept of tax residency links a person to a particular territory for the purpose of determining questions of law (including tax law) that applies to him. In practice, a person’s tax residency is not always obvious or easy to determine, despite its being a crucial element of his relationship with a particular legal system.

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  • a picture of wedding rings atop a wooden bench
    16/01/2019 0 Comments

    Two regulations dated 24th June2016 are complementing the inheritance regulations that came into force lastAugust 2015. After inheritance, so these are matrimonial and registeredpartnerships which are subject to European regulation. 19 members states,including France, wanted to establish enhanced cooperation in these matters. The regulations will come into force on the 29th January 2019.

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    31/10/2018 - FRANCE TAX LAW 0 Comments

    I often have clients asking how long does a property transaction take to be completed in France. The average timescale is between 2 to 3 months but often depends on the particularities of each transaction. Indeed, some of you may purchase a property without any renovation work, ready to move in, others may want to renovate or extend it and would require planning permission before signing, a mortgage may be required, a division of lands, or the property/land is occupied.

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  • french property, gift, succession, donation, inheritance tax, usufruit, life interest
    27/09/2018 - FRANCE TAX LAW 0 Comments

    Parents may wish to pass on their assets while they are still alive to their children, perhaps to help them buy a property or to avoid conflict between heirs after a death, or simply to ensure the smooth transmission of a family property.

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  • 17/08/2018 - FRANCE TAX LAW 0 Comments

    As a Lawyer, I meet people every day who have lost a relative or become concerned by their future and the possibility of losing the capacity to deal with their own affairs. In England it is possible to anticipate and curb a problem by signing a Lasting Power of Attorney. Alternatively, we may create a trust to administrate those assets posthumously. In France,neither of these forms existed until two recent Laws were passed, which introduced a form of Power of Attorney (mandate) with the purpose of providing the flexibility to organise and administrate a person’s assets or estate.

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  • A paper with french words written on it by a fountain calligraphy pen
    06/07/2018 - FRANCE TAX LAW 0 Comments

    The Notaire who is called upon to settle an international succession is often confronted with a certain number of questions, one of them being the validity of a Will left by the deceased. Making a Will is the most common way for a person to settle his estate and transfer his assets to his heirs. For instance in of common Law Countries (United Kingdom, Unites States…) it is most of a time a testamentary succession.

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  • notaire. fees, french law, buying property in France, stamp duty
    24/06/2018 - FRANCETAXLAW 0 Comments

    Notaires in France are Public Officials appointed by the Ministry of Justice and have their own system and practice which is distinctive from the other profession of Avocat or even Solicitors.They are empowered to place the French State Seal on the deeds that they prepare. These deeds fall into a category of public document and are difficult to challenge. We have calls every day from client enquiring what the Notaire's fees are. Notaires always provide clients with a figure to complete the transaction butrarely break it down unless specifically requested.

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  • a picture of a hand pointing at one of the box on a black background
    08/06/2018 - FRANCE TAX LAW 0 Comments

    With the recent European Succession law that came into force on 17th August 2015, most of British nationals wonder whether the use of a SCI to hold a property in France still has a benefit. Indeed, the new succession law permits a British national to choose English law as the law applicable to his estate and overcome the compulsory French forced heirship.

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  • french property law, compromis, french estate agent, commission, notaire's fees, completion, suspensive conditions
    10/05/2018 0 Comments

    The system of buying a property in France is not so different from the one in the UK. Balancing the two systems, none is better or worse than the other but they both have their particularities. Whereas exchange takes place after the formalities have been carried out in England, the French exchange (signing of initial contract) takes place prior to carrying out the searches. The purpose of this article is to give you an indication of the process of purchasing a property in France. In any case it will replace any advice that you would seek through a professional.

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    16/04/2018 - FRANCE TAX LAW 0 Comments

    In December, France lost one of its greatest singers and idols of several generations, Johnny Hallyday. The sadness of his death has now been shadowed by a media unpacking around his estate and his Will. Johnny Hallyday had two children from previous unions and adopted two children with his surviving spouse, Laeticia - a situation that is not unusual nowadays. According to his Will, he designated Californian law as the law applicable to his succession and bequeathed all his estate to his wife, to the detriment of his two children from previous unions.

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  • 14/03/2018 0 Comments

    In this month French Property News Magazine I will be looking at the different options to give a property to your children.


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  • 26/02/2018 - FRANCE TAX LAW 0 Comments
    cooling off period "to be continued...."

    Yet again another decision made by the High Court on 14th February 2018 regarding the cooling off period in France. This time the Notaire is directly involved because the claim was made against him by a vendor.

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  • inheritance, french, tax advice, succession, surviving spouse, tax threshold, life interest, usufruit, nue propriete
    12/02/2018 - FRANCE TAX LAW 0 Comments

    Most of European countries have ratified the European succession Law and Monaco has now decided to create its own international rules to match the rest of Europe. As a result civil law will no longer be an issue for an English national as he will always be able to apply English law to his assets wherever he is located.

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  • Court of Justice of the European Union Building
    19/01/2018 - FRANCE TAX LAW 0 Comments

    The European Court of Justice said in the case JAHIN (CJUE 18/01/2018 – CASE C45/17 JAHIN) that a non-resident of France living outside the European Economic Area and Switzerland could be subject to social contributions (CSG and CRDS) levied on their income in France by the French tax authorities.

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  • marriage, french succession, frenh property law
    08/01/2018 - FRANCE TAX LAW 0 Comments
    French legal marital regime

    We are one year away from the new European legislation regarding matrimonial regime that was voted and adopted by 18 members of the European Union. It will

    come into force in the countries that voted and adopted it from 29th January 2019 and has for aim to replace The Hague convention dated 14th
    March 1978. There is no doubt that Notaires and International Lawyers will have to review their client’s personal situation regarding their French and overseas
    assets for estate planning purposes. They will also have to juggle with the Hague convention, Common Law and new legislation to assess the nature of the assets.

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  • 14/11/2017 - FranceTaxLaw 0 Comments

    On 28th June 2017 the National Council of Monaco voted a new Act on private international law to complete the existing provisions and bring a legal solution to the competent jurisdiction and applicable law in situations involving various jurisdictions as well as establishing recognition of foreign decisions and instruments.

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  • wealth tax, france
    14/11/2017 - FranceTaxLaw 0 Comments

    One of the promises of Emmanuel Macron was to replace the current wealth tax by a new tax that would only apply to real estate. The capital property tax (IFI) as envisaged by Emmanuel Macron consists of taking out financial investments, savings, luxury movables (cars, yachts, horses…) and other securities from the taxable assets of the ISF in order to retain only real estate.

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  • 14/11/2017 - FranceTaxLaw 0 Comments

    Since the succession regulation (EU) No 650/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 4 July 2012 on jurisdiction, applicable law, recognition and enforcement of decisions and acceptance and enforcement of authentic instruments in matters of succession and on the creation of a European Certificate of Succession, that came into force on 17th August 2015 in the states members of the EU, to the exception of Denmark, United Kingdom and Ireland, the question was

    raised in France as to whether or not the forced heirship would prevail over  the regulation.

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