Q&A: Ask the ex­perts

Our ex­perts give their ad­vice on bank­ing, plus taxes for US cit­i­zens and un­mar­ried cou­ples

Living France - - Contents -

DON’T BANK ON IT Q

I am a UK res­i­dent and have owned a house in Brit­tany since 1989. My French bank re­cently asked me to send proof of res­i­dence in the UK by way of a re­cent util­ity bill or coun­cil tax bill, both of which I sup­plied. Now I have re­ceived a fur­ther let­ter from Crédit Mutuel ask­ing me to send a com­pleted auto-cer­ti­fi­ca­tion fis­cale declar­ing my coun­try of res­i­dence. This re­quests that if pos­si­ble these doc­u­ments are in French or ac­com­pa­nied by trans­la­tions by a cer­ti­fied trans­la­tor. I have also been asked for “mon numéro d’iden­ti­fi­ca­tion fis­cal (NIF/US TIN)”. Have you heard of this re­quire­ment be­fore and have you any idea how I can com­ply with it? Pre­sum­ably just send­ing a copy of my UK in­come tax as­sess­ment is not enough and I some­how have to pro­vide this at­tes­ta­tion?

PETER SADGROVE

A

In order to in­crease tax transparency be­tween coun­tries, new reg­u­la­tions now ap­ply which al­low the au­to­matic ex­change of fi­nan­cial ac­count in­for­ma­tion. Sub­se­quent to the in­tro­duc­tion of FATCA rules which ap­ply to US cit­i­zens, the Com­mon Re­port­ing Stan­dard (CRS) is now live in France, the UK and ap­prox­i­mately 60 other ju­ris­dic­tions.

Since 1 Jan­uary 2016, all fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions in these coun­tries have been obliged to col­lect in­for­ma­tion on tax res­i­dency of all new ac­count hold­ers. This in­for­ma­tion is now also es­sen­tial for any ex­ist­ing clients who are a tax res­i­dent in an­other coun­try.

Your bank will there­fore need to es­tab­lish your coun­try of tax res­i­dence and to do so will re­quest you to com­plete a self-cer­ti­fi­ca­tion doc­u­ment ‘ auto- cer­ti­fi­ca­tion de la rési­dence fis­cale’. They are also re­quired to carry out a rea­son­able­ness check, and may there­fore re­quest you to pro­vide var­i­ous doc­u­ments to sup­port your dec­la­ra­tion.

The doc­u­ments re­quested may vary from bank to bank, and also de­pend upon their ex­pe­ri­ence of deal­ing with non-res­i­dent clients. For ex­am­ple, we can eas­ily recog­nise valid UK tax doc­u­ments and we have no re­quire­ment for a cer­ti­fied trans­la­tion into French.

In 2017, and an­nu­ally there­after, French fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions are re­quired to trans­mit rel­e­vant in­for­ma­tion re­gard­ing your ac­count bal­ance, in­ter­est, div­i­dends, etc, to the French tax au­thor­i­ties. This in­for­ma­tion will sub­se­quently be shared with the tax au­thor­i­ties of your coun­try of fis­cal res­i­dence. It is there­fore vi­tally im­por­tant that your bank has the cor­rect in­for­ma­tion re­gard­ing your coun­try of fis­cal res­i­dence. They will also ask for your TIN (Tax Iden­ti­fi­ca­tion Num­ber), more com­monly known in the UK as UTR (Unique Tax­payer Ref­er­ence), how­ever you may not have one if you have al­ways paid your UK taxes via PAYE. Your NINO (Na­tional In­sur­ance Num­ber) may be ac­cept­able as an al­ter­na­tive.

If you do not com­ply with their self­cer­ti­fi­ca­tion re­quire­ments within the spec­i­fied timescale, it is likely that the bank will de­ter­mine your coun­try of fis­cal res­i­dence based on de­tails they al­ready hold con­cern­ing you, and make the dec­la­ra­tion to the rel­e­vant tax au­thor­i­ties on this ba­sis.

If you need any as­sis­tance in de­ter­min­ing where you are res­i­dent for tax pur­poses you should con­sult a tax ex­pert.

CHRIS­TINE BEN­NETT

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