It is essential that you declare any accounts and investments held outside of France

If you continue to maintain any form of investment outside of France, whether this is a bank or building society account, an ISA, offshore bond, share portfolio, etc, you must declare these to the French tax authorities.

The potential penalty for not declaring foreign bank accounts (or any other forms of foreign investment), has recently increased to 1,500 euros per account (or between 1.5% - 3% of the balance, if greater, with a maximum increase of 35% tax if the investment is considered as having been deliberately hidden from the authorities or if it was opened since you became French tax resident).

Of even more concern, one of my clients has received a circular from his accountant that people risk having these penalties applied retrospectively for up to three years (i.e. 3 years at €1,500 per account per annum!). The accountant also warned that the tax authorities have put resources in place to check a minimum of 35,000 accounts when the details start arriving.

The French tax authorities have indeed announced publicly that they have significantly increased the number of inspectors looking into such cases. I have personal experience of someone being fined €6,000 for 4 ‘dormant’ UK accounts which held a total of less than £500.

Since this article was first published several people have written to me saying that they have already suffered significant fines. One person was fined €18,000 (3 years per account for 4 accounts) even though they had diligently declared the insignificant amount of interest these had earned for the past 5 years.

Until now, it is only details of accounts that have earned interest which have been reported to the French impôts. From the 1st January 2016, all accounts (including ISAs, insurance bonds, mutual funds, share ownership, etc) will be reported.

Although the banks, investments companies, building societies, insurance companies, etc. may take until 2017 to provide the figures, these will be based on their records as at 1st January 2016, even if the accounts are subsequently closed. This agreement covers not only the EU countries but a whole host of others around the world.

Lots of expats are of the opinion that ‘they won’t bother with little old me’. They are wrong. This is a huge potential money spinner for the French treasury and they are gearing up to make the most of it.

Other people are terrified that they are going to be declaring bank accounts or investments that they have previously not declared. Some of them go back 20 years and they worry about the consequences of now bringing them to the attention of the impôts.

I can understand their concern, but I have never known of a case where further investigation has resulted from their declaring them. That doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen (and we know that tax offices are notorious for having their own rules) but it is by far the lesser of two evils.

Since this article was first published, I know of tens of people who have followed my advice. To date, not one of them has been fined or paid more tax than they would have done if they had declared the accounts and interest on their last 3 tax returns.
A simple explanation to the tax office that it was reading this article that brought your attention to your being obliged to do so would probably help. I can supply a letter to accompany a ‘late’ declaration of accounts.

My advice is for expats to think of every account or investment that they may have kept in the UK (Channel Islands, Isle of Man, or even Bermuda!) and declare these.

All too many people say that they have the tax deducted at source and therefore don’t need to declare it in France. Others think that their ISAs remain ‘tax free’ and don’t need reporting. They are wrong (although it is an argument to put to the impôts as to why you haven’t declared the accounts previously).

I have already certified documents for clients with ISAs, where the companies concerned have made it absolutely clear that they are obliged to report the existence of these to the tax authorities. France does not regard ISAs as having any tax benefits whatsoever once people become French residents.

In the past few days, I have received forms from two companies (one in the UK, one in Luxembourg) asking me to provide them with my French ‘Tax Identification Number’. If I don’t reply, they will be ‘required to report their understanding of my tax residency to the authorities’.

Over the years, I have met a lot of expats who still think that their having investments registered at a UK address is going to mean that they will ‘stay under the radar’. They are wrong.

Financial institutions will now be legally obliged to have evidence that their investors actually live at the UK address they have on their records. Using the address of a parent or sibling is fine, until you need to produce an electricity bill, phone bill, rates bill to prove that this is where you live.

If there are any doubts about the information, ‘electronic checks’ will be required (whatever they happen to be – (possible cross- checking with HMRC records, phone directory, electoral roll?).

So what should you do about this? The answer is to declare the existence of all accounts that you hold outside of France. If any of these have earned any interest, or if you have taken any withdrawals from bonds, you should submit a ‘Déclaration rectificative’. You will then receive a tax bill for the amount you should have paid for the past 3 years. Even if there is a modest additional amount of tax to pay (and I have never known this to happen), the consequences of not doing so could be infinitely worse.

If you think that you may be one of the people who need to declare a bank account or investment, I would be happy to discuss this with you and provide you with details of precisely how to go about declaring these. It is usually a very straightforward procedure and I won’t charge you anything for doing so!

TSG Insurance Services SARL, (The Spectrum IFA Group).
(ORIAS - no 07 032 493)’ and an accredited
‘Conseiller en Investissements Financiers’ (référencé par
ANACOFI-CIF no EOO2440).TSG Insurance Services SARL
Siège Social : 34 Bd des Italiens, 75009 Paris
Société de Courtages d’assurances. R.C.S. Paris B447 609 108 (2003B04384)

This report is intended simply as a summary of some aspects of French
succession law and inheritance tax. It is based on my understanding of
current legislation, which may be subject to change. No liability can be
accepted for any change of interpretation or practice relating to any
tax or legislative measure that may affect the accuracy of the content.

ask @Graham_Keysell

Account Declaration.pdf (422.9 KB)


Sounds scary doesn’t it? Just a couple of points though:

  1. The declaring of accounts and assurance vie contracts held outside France has never solely applied to accounts that have earned interest. The legislation has, and continues to apply to any account / policy open, closed or used during the financial year in question.

  2. The minimum £1,500 fine per account per year held (or 5% whichever the greater) - as mentioned above, has recently been challenged and declared unconstitutional and disproportionate. New lower maximum fines have been implemented but, unfortunately, so have increased overall % rates. Here’s a couple of recent articles:

Overseas Account Fines Disproportionate

Response From Tax Authorities

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We had to go to the Hotel des Impots way back in 2006 to discuss our annual declarations and the inspector already had all the information relating to every account we held in the UK then.

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So if I have an account in UK with 100 quid in it I have to declare it…is that right ?

@Graham_Keysell or @Brian_Furzer can clarify that for you, but I believe so yes!

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You are correct, James.

I know of someone who was fined €6,000 for having four undisclosed accounts. The total balance in of all 4 of them was under £100!

Best regards,


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Surely, you are only referring to French resident status only. As a U.K. Tax payer and non resident in France (maison secondaire etc) only spending 4-5 months here a year max, I don’t believe I need to be concerned about this.

Correct Angela you don’t need to be concerned.

What about a civil service pension fund transferred under the qrops scheme?(not being drawn on)
And if so, and the investment is in a position of less worth than it was when it was invested, is this allowable as a tax deduction?

According to the Common Reporting Standard laid out by the OECD - it will normally be the balances at the end of the relevant calendar year or other appropriate reporting period.

This is a little vague. Are you saying that my current account which I use for my pension (on which I pay tax in France) transfer & does not attract interest, must be declared to the French tax authorities?

Yes, exactly.

The legislation covers ALL accounts held by financial institutions. Until
now, information has been exchanged amongst all the EU countries under the
European Tax Directive. I know of a number of people who have been
prosecuted because of the information sent concerning the interest they have
earned or investment contracts they have cashed in.

The new treaty includes every type of account (with the exception of
accounts such as PayPal or Forex). You can find the legislation at

Even more frightening is the obligation for financial institutions to hold
documentary evidence of where every one of their account holders lives.
Anyone using a friend’s or relative’s address is going to be in for a nasty
surprise. I can envisage the French authorities considering this as fraud.
Hope this clarifies things.


Nothing vague about it! Your current account is a bank account so needs to be declared. Any accounts opened, closed or used during the financial year. The definition of ‘used’ is actually ‘available to use’.

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Thanks, Simon. This relates to the last question on the main 2042 tax return
(8UU). When we all declare ‘on line’ next year, when you click on 8UU, it
will prompt you to declare all accounts (or any other forms of investment)
that you have outside of France. I know that the majority of people who have
been fined for ‘non-declaration’ hold the simplest forms of bank / building
society accounts, such as current accounts.

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It always amazes me how this topic crops up time and time again. The tax declaration written notes and online prompts are abundantly clear on whats required re declaring overseas accounts and assurance vie contracts. And yet…it always seems to come as a complete surprise to many immigrants. My advice would be, if you’re not sure then just declare it! Unless of course you have something to hide…:wink:

Sorry if this has already been asked, but I’ll be filing out my french taxes for the first time this year and am looking for some clarification.

I have a checking account in the u.s. that I only maintain to pay my student loans through. My current system is that I use PayPal to send money from my french account into my American one to make this transaction once a month. Do I need to declare this checking account (which accrues no interest) and/or the money I send out of France per month? Thanks.

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Hi Sara,

Firstly, you don’t need to declare your PayPal account, nor the fact that you are transferring money each month.

You should, however, declare the existence of your US bank account.

Incredibly, it was the US who put pressure on the 100+ countries to share details of accounts held by foreign residents, but they are one of only a handful of countries who have not signed up to the agreement! This means that they will not advise France that you hold a bank account there.

However, the fact that money is transferred from your account to a foreign country raises the likelihood that questions will be asked. It would be totally stupid to leave yourself open to a €1,500 fine, so you should declare the existence of the account.

Whilst you could use the attached format to declare the account, by signing and dating it and give it to your local tax office, most people are now going to wait until they complete the 2016 online declaration (compulsory from next year) and click on box 8UU. This should ask you to provide the same information as shown in the attachment.

I hope this helps, but please let me know if you have any questions.

Best regards,


T.S.G Insurance Services S.A.R.L (The Spectrum IFA Group)
Siège Social : 34 Bd des Italiens, 75009 Paris
Corres : T.S.G., 11 rue Tronchet, 75008 Paris
Société de Courtage d’Assurances.
R.C.S. Paris B447 609 108(2003B04384)
No d’Immatriculation 07 025 332 -

Conseiller en investissements financiers référencé no E002440 par

Tel : tel:%2B33%20(0)1%2044%2083%2064%2064 +33 (0)1 44 83 64 64
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Hi James - After I read your column in regards to declaration of accounts & investments I promptly rang Graham Keysell - he told me that it only applied to people that live and work in France, not like me that has a holiday shack in France and pay my Taxe d’habitat & foncier - so may be you need to make this clear in the beginning - otherwise we panic and wast Graham’s time.

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@PeterHuber that point has already been clearly made within this discussion! However, for further clarification based on your post (!) - the declaration of accounts and investments held outside France only applies to French residents i.e. you do not need to be working in France, as you have indicated above. Probably worth pointing out that you may indeed be a French resident based on the amount of time you spend in your ‘holiday shack’.