Does anybody see the harm; problems; implications and/or risks here?
Due to a retrenchment package in 2012 I had the good fortune of being able to afford; and own a very modest ‘maison secondaire’ in France. I’ve spent the last six years renovating it and spending up to five months each year in France, mostly carrying out those renovations.
At the time of purchase, as a UK citizen, I bought it in the knowledge that I could (effectively) come and go there whenever, and for a long as I pleased (with due reference to the maximum six month stay for non residents) and thus without the requirement of being a French taxpayer etc.
Thanks to Brexit I no longer have the flexibility that came with ‘Freedom of Movement.’ I have no plans to retire to France or stay for longer than 6 months each year. My ‘maison premier’ is not in France. I am however saddened at the loss of a benefit previously enjoyed under Brexit. It was an EU membership benefit that I treasured.
I have considered seeking a CdS, because I am able to fulfil all the requirements (tax / social security / health / self funding etc) and able and happy to ‘pay my way’ in France generally. Those costs and other requirements are not onerous for me (so I can be foolish if I wish in that regard).
What persuades me in seeking a CdS this year is only the ‘window of opportunity’ of the relative ease of acquiring one (come October 2020) in my circumstances.
If I’m willing and able to fulfil all the requirements to acquire a CdS, but do not actually spend more than 6 months in France each year, what’s the harm in that, if I’m happy to contribute to the France economy regardless?
I do not plan to be a Permanent Resident of France. I’m already a permanent resident and citizen (with my primary economic base) elsewhere. The principle here after all is only to seek to preserve a specific Pre Brexit benefit (in regard to France), at my cost.
Various tax implications aside (well known to me and not an issue I need advice on), does anybody see the harm; problems; implications and/or risks here?
If you have less than 5 years residence in your host state, you can be absent for a maximum of 6 months per year (longer in some cases). If you have permanent residence status as an EU citizen (i.e. more than 5 years of legal residence) and your absence extends over the end of transition (currently set at 31 December 2020) you will benefit from the new rules in the WA which allow you to be away from your host state for 5 years. Remember though that you will have to apply for your new residence status and card before 1 July 2021, and you will need to be able to show ongoing residence in order to switch your status to permanent residence under the WA.
There are 2 scenarios envisaged here : the first when you have less than 5 years legal residency in France, the second when you have more than 5 years legal residency in France. Assuming you have been legally resident for the 6 years you’ve been doing up the house, then you would fit in scenario 2, which implies that you have to switch your residence status to “permanent resident” as that term is presently understood within the framework of exercising your TFEU treaty rights. That does not, however, seem to fit with what you want to be.
I think you would be skirting the boundaries of legality in one country or another… If you don’t intend to spend more than 6 months in France that would invalidate a CdS. For the first 5 years “absences temporaires ne dépassant pas 6 mois par an“.
And for people who hover between countries of residence it is not necessarily the number of days you spend in one country or another that tips the balance, but examination of your primary economic base and family/work ties. So if the question comes up the tax authorities would get to decide, and the final decider would be your nationality.
So the only way to be completely legal is to stay for more than 6 months each year and be a fully signed up resident. Which limits your freedom for 5 years. And so you need to consider seriously whether you are prepared to accept the wider implications of that? So the French regime for inheritance tax for example, as well as little things like re#registering your car. It sounds as if you may also cross the boundary into annual wealth tax… currently 1.3€ million worldwide property at present but may well change again and include all assets again and drop threshold back to 1.1€million which is what it was before Macron. They have to pay for Covid somehow.
I also have a suspicion that despite the French positive attitude to accepting Brits, they may well be recognise that they will be second home owners who seek to get a CdS. So the fact that you have not until now paid French income tax may well require explanation.
The risk of breaking rules is expulsion, and then being banned. Which I have to say is hugely unlikely as the only cases I have heard of are those who break labour laws or defraud tax.
If it were me I would take the leap, but then I’m happy to spend most of the year in France!
It’s not quite as simple as that. You could have a main residence in the UK and a small tumble-down shack in France and still end up a French residence. It’s where you, and your family, and your economic interests are, not just where your house is.
Thank you Jane. Some useful; intelligent and informative posts.
I do however believe you can be a tax health + resident of more than one country with an economic base recognised in only one by the relevant country ‘Avoidance of Double Taxation’ convention(s).
Get the info direct : Les ressortissants britanniques résidant régulièrement en France avant la fin de la période de transition et présents depuis plus de 5 ans sur le territoire français auront accès à une carte de séjour permanent d’une durée de 10 ans.
Les ressortissants britanniques résidant régulièrement en France avant la fin de la période de transition et ayant moins de 5 ans de présence obtiendront un titre d’une durée de 1 à 5 ans en fonction de leur situation.
Les ressortissants britanniques arrivés en France à partir du 1er janvier 2021 et qui n’ont pas de lien familial avec un Britannique bénéficiant de l’accord se verront délivrer un titre de séjour sur le fondement des dispositions du droit commun.
The key really is the “résidant régulièrement” part of the conditions, proof of that is usually your feuille d’impôts, utility bills etc.
You can only be attached to the social security system of one country, and one country is your primary fiscal base. But yes if you qualify you can be a dual resident - but it’s not you that decides. ie You can’t say I’m going to be a dual resident you have to fit the criteria and continue to fit the criteria every year.
How that would play out with Withdrawal Agreement conditions I really don’t know. So surely easier to take the steps necessary to leap over now, and sort out those details later? As a British national you can always go “back”
So if you want to do this, presuming you are here right now, get sorted with the health authorities here asap (it is nearly August…). Whatever date you arrived this year take as your entry date (keep your ticket) and get on with it.
(Edit: no doubt someone will point out that retired british nationals with S1’s are in the french health system, but also eligible for NHS care. Formally we are attached to the UK health system, and France merely “fosters” us and we remain dependent on a single health service)
A question many must be considering.
If I may offer my view, my feeling is that Alec Gray’s hope is to bypass the implications of Brexit and retain his status quo. I am not sure it will work. Has he considered the driving licence issue for example, or inheritance implications, or any savings that take advantage of uk tax incentives.
One can have many residences but only one primary residence. If he wants to make France his primary residence, his uk home will have to become a secondary residence and uk institutions such as his bank, hmrc etc. will have to be informed. There is more to consider than simply being allowed to spend more than half the year in France which it is not clear that he has ever wanted to do up til now!