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Whether you’re plan­ning your move to France, or are al­ready liv­ing there, our panel of pro­fes­sion­als aims to keep you fully in­formed with the best advice for ev­ery even­tu­al­ity

Living France - - Contents -

Our ex­perts give their advice on pen­sions, civil part­ner­ships and mov­ing with chick­ens

Q

I am mov­ing to France with my five chick­ens and duck and would like to know what the cur­rent re­stric­tions are. The dif­fer­ing opin­ions I’ve come across on­line have been more con­fus­ing than help­ful! Stephanie Richie

A

It is quite a com­pli­cated busi­ness, what with chick­ens not be­ing classed as ‘pets’ along­side dogs, cats, rab­bits and even fer­rets, but I hope my an­swer gives a lit­tle food for thought.

Yes, the web­sites can in­deed be con­fus­ing, but it might be worth tak­ing a look at the De­part­ment for En­vi­ron­ment Food & Ru­ral Af­fairs website: (gov.uk/ gov­ern­ment/col­lec­tions/guid­ance-on­im­port­ing-and-ex­port­ing-live-an­i­mals-oran­i­mal-prod­ucts) and it’s worth con­tact­ing them by tele­phone. Your lo­cal vet ought to be able to ad­vise too.

Forms may need to be com­pleted and maybe even vac­ci­na­tions given or blood tests taken be­fore trav­el­ling, and your birds will need to be seen by a De­fra vet im­me­di­ately prior to de­par­ture. On the French side, the au­thor­i­ties there may need ex­tra in­for­ma­tion, par­tic­u­larly with the cur­rent bird flu con­cerns.

Bring­ing your chick­ens and duck with you is pos­si­ble, but the process can be so com­pli­cated that many de­cide to give their birds to trusted, re­li­able friends or rel­a­tives in the UK and start afresh with birds bought in France once they are set­tled into their new home and life­style. Oth­ers have done the same but, not want­ing to lose a par­tic­u­lar strain/blood­line or just a con­nec­tion to their old birds, have ar­ranged to take fer­tile eggs over to France and hatch them in a small in­cu­ba­tor.

The French are quite keen poul­try keep­ers and there are plenty of pure- breed en­thu­si­asts but, if you are only after egg-lay­ing gar­den pets, once any bird flu re­stric­tions have been lifted, it should be easy enough to buy good-qual­ity lay­ing birds at your lo­cal mar­ket.

I’m sorry not to be able to give you more spe­cific, positive advice, and I wish you well with your move. JEREMY HOBSON

PEN­SION POT Q

I plan to start draw­ing out from a UK pen­sion pot and I’m try­ing to work out the amount that I’ll have left, after de­duc­tions. I’ve been a French tax res­i­dent for many years. I think I’d be better declar­ing it as nor­mal in­come and I know it car­ries an au­to­matic 10% re­bate, but I can’t work out the so­cial con­tri­bu­tions li­a­bil­ity, or if there are any. John Byrne

A

The first is­sue is to un­der­stand the def­i­ni­tion of a ‘pen­sion pot’, as this could be al­most any form of re­tire­ment sav­ings and there are many kinds of th­ese; far too many than is pos­si­ble to cover here.

The most com­mon form of pen­sion pot, which has a ‘draw’, how­ever is a SIPP or self-in­vested pen­sion plan (or it could be a SSAS, which is a com­pany vari­ant). This of­fers the abil­ity to draw down in­come, as and when you need it, as op­posed to a reg­u­lar in­come.

If it is a pen­sion, then there is no choice as to how to de­clare it; it must be de­clared as such. In­deed, there is a 10% al­lowance ap­plied to pen­sions, in­clud­ing UK ones, but there is a celling of €3,715 on this.

As for so­cial charges, the EU pro­hibits the re­moval of so­cial charges for those who are of state re­tire­ment age (thus un­der the care of the UK via the S1 sys­tem). You can draw from a per­sonal pen­sion from the age of 50, so if you re­tired early then, in the­ory, so­cial charges may be ap­pli­ca­ble. I say ‘in the­ory’ be­cause many early re­tirees are not asked to pay it, as the lo­cal tax of­fice has mis­un­der­stood EU law where it states that so­cial charges are not ap­pli­ca­ble to pen­sions and ap­plied the rul­ing to all pen­sions.

This is becoming rarer as high-pro­file cases against the French gov­ern­ment, like the de Ruyter rul­ing, have raised aware­ness of so­cial charges for for­eign­ers, so tax of­fices are becoming more in­formed with re­gard to so­cial charges.

Of course, what will hap­pen to Bri­tish cit­i­zens and their abil­ity to ac­cess the S1 sys­tem will be un­cer­tain once the UK leaves the EU.

In con­clu­sion, you have a 10% al­lowance on the in­come and, if you are of state re­tire­ment age and have an S1, there are, cur­rently, no so­cial charges to pay. ROBERT KENT

EQUAL RIGHTS Q

My part­ner and I en­tered into a civil part­ner­ship in the UK a few years ago. We own a house in France and are hop­ing to move there on a full-time ba­sis this sum­mer. Does our part­ner­ship have the same le­gal sta­tus in France as it does in the UK, and what does this mean in terms of our tax li­a­bil­i­ties? Colin Rooney

A

A cou­ple hav­ing com­pleted a Civil Part­ner­ship (a CPA) in the UK, in ac­cor­dance with the terms of the Civil Part­ner­ships Act 2004, will have sim­i­lar rights recog­nised in France. A CPA can be as­sim­i­lated to a French PACS (Pacte Civil de Sol­i­dar­ité), the only dif­fer­ence be­tween the two be­ing that a French PACS is avail­able equally to same-sex and het­ero­sex­ual cou­ples, while a CPA is only avail­able for a same-sex cou­ple in the UK. (At the time of writ­ing, this ap­par­ent dis­crim­i­na­tion un­der English law has been con­sid­ered by the Court of Ap­peal, which found that it was not un­law­ful. How­ever the case is likely to come be­fore the Supreme Court, so the sit­u­a­tion re­mains as yet un­cer­tain.)

The con­se­quence of recog­ni­tion of a CPA in France is that a cou­ple should en­joy var­i­ous so­cial and fi­nan­cial ben­e­fits, upon which it is al­ways pru­dent to speak to health and wel­fare ex­perts, and pen­sions and in­vest­ment pro­fes­sion­als.

The cou­ple should also be able to sub­mit a house­hold in­come tax re­turn, which should gen­er­ally re­sult in an over­all re­duc­tion in the in­come tax bur­den. It is im­por­tant to note, though, that when mov­ing to France per­ma­nently any UK in­come will still need to be in­cluded on a French tax re­turn, al­beit with credit be­ing given for any tax al­ready paid in the UK (the same sit­u­a­tion arises in re­verse, for any UK res­i­dents with French in­come). In this re­spect, it is al­ways wise to seek the guid­ance of lo­cal ac­coun­tants.

In ad­di­tion, the sur­vivor of the cou­ple would ben­e­fit from an ex­emp­tion from French in­her­i­tance tax on any legacy pass­ing be­tween them. In the ab­sence of a CPA or PACS, an un­mar­ried cou­ple leav­ing any­thing be­tween each other would be im­pos­ing a 60% in­her­i­tance tax li­a­bil­ity on his or her part­ner.

Fi­nally, it is also im­por­tant to note that even when a cou­ple has com­pleted a CPA or PACS there is not nec­es­sar­ily any au­to­matic right of in­her­i­tance in favour of the sur­vivor. They should there­fore en­sure that they give good con­sid­er­a­tion to draft­ing wills. In this re­spect, there is re­ally no ‘one-size-fits-all’ ap­proach, and there­fore advice from so­lic­i­tors ex­pe­ri­enced in French and English in­her­i­tance law is im­por­tant. It is not even nec­es­sar­ily the case that choos­ing to de­clare that English law would ap­ply to a per­son’s es­tate on death is al­ways the most suit­able op­tion, de­spite the EU suc­ces­sion reg­u­la­tion that is now in force. MATTHEW CAMERON

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