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French Taxation

Capital Gains Tax Rules on Former Residents

Friday 08 September 2017

The French Constitutional Court is to consider if a rule relating to capital gains tax on non-residents is unconstitutional.

As regular readers of our pages will be aware, there is complete exemption from capital gains tax in France on the sale of the principal home.

The exemption also applies where you may have relocated to another property while your previous home is on the market for sale, provided the sale takes place within a 'normal period'.

Just what is a normal period is not defined in law, but case law has judged in one recent case that a normal period it may be up to 22 months after vacating the property, provided all reasonable steps were taken to dispose of it.

However, French law only grants this exemption to those who remain fiscally resident in France.

Thus, if you vacate the main home and relocate abroad, the subsequent sale of the property will not benefit from this exemption.

In a recent case that went before the French courts a couple challenged this doctrine, which they considered was contrary to the principle of equality of treatment enshrined in the French constitution.

The Conseil d'Etat, the highest administrative court in France made no decision on the matter, deciding instead that the case raised a constitutional issue, which they referred to the Conseil constitutionnel.

A decision on the question should be delivered within the next 12 to 18 months.

In the meantime, non-residents can still benefit from the provisions of other relief granted to former residents of France.

On condition that they are a national of the EEA, and that they can demonstrate at least a continuous period two years of tax residence in France prior to the sale, there is an exemption up to a maximum gain of €150K per person.

Although the main legal text is imprecise, the administrative regulations also suggest nationals from outside of the EEA would also be eligible on a conditional basis.

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