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French Social Contributions on the Sale of French Property

A recent French case has followed the reasoning in the earlier EU decision that France should not charge non-residents social charges on sale. It is only a matter of time before France capitulates and changes its law so that foreigners do not pay 15.5% social charges on  their gains on French property sales. Reclaiming past French social charges may still prove difficult.

Background

France has levied social charges on the sale of French property and on rents arising from French property on non-French residents. A recent EU case (de Ruyter) is taken to have decided that these charges are unlawful. There has been a further case which strengthens the position of non-French residents who have objected to paying French social charges.

Latest case – Conseil d’Etat (Supreme Court) decision of 17th April 2015 – N° 365511

Mr A, a French resident was assessed in 2007 to French social charges on the sale of a property. Mr A was not affiliated to any French social fund and as such could not benefit from the contributions he had made. He objected to making the payment.

The court referred to the EU de Ruyter case in which it was said that there was a sufficient and direct link between the French social charges (which finance French social security system) and the branches of social security listed in the EU Regulation 1408/71 and that the French social charges fell within the scope of that Regulation regardless of whether or not payees were entitled to any benefits in return. The Regulation provides that an individual should be subject to and assessed to social contributions within one social security system only. It followed that persons who were resident in France but who were not part of the French social security system could not be made subject to French social contributions. In this case Mr. A was not part of any French social fund and so he was not liable to pay the social charges.

Upshot

The upshot is that the French courts are taking the same line as the EU Court with regard to French residents. If there is no link with the French social security system you do not have to pay. It is now to be hoped that French law will soon be changed and refunds made promptly to sellers who have had French social charges deducted unlawfully.

David Anderson

Sykes Anderson Perry Limited      13May 2015      www.saplaw.co.uk

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