Q&A: Ask the experts
Our experts give their advice on banking, plus taxes for US citizens and unmarried couples
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?
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.