Purchase and ownership of a property in France by non-French tax residents
Income and corporate taxes
It is usual to recommend to foreigners for complicated French reasons an individual ownership or the ownership by a dedicated civil company named SCI (owned itself by individuals), as opposed to another type of company in France or a company in any other jurisdiction owning the property.
Indeed, in the case the property is owned by:
- an SCI owned by a French or a foreign company,
- or by a French company other than a SCI,
- or by a foreign company,
then these companies are subject:
a) annually, to the “French corporate tax” (even if the property is not rented out) based on the estimation of the “benefit in kind” in the hands of the ultimate individual shareholders or third
persons using the property,
b) to a specific computation of the future “capital gain”, which is in such case never exempted for duration of ownership, and based on the difference between the sale price and the initial
purchase price, being itself reduced by 2% to 4% per year of ownership, which means an increase of the taxable capital gain, with a rate of tax of 28% (French corporate tax),
c) to the obligation of disclosing the names of their ultimate individual shareholders in view to avoid the “annual 3% tax”.
On the contrary: ownership by an Individual, or through a Civil Company (French or Luxembourg or Monaco Civil Companies, called “SCI”) owned by individuals (ultimate beneficial owner):
a) is not subject to any taxation in case the property is not rented out.
It must be noted that the owners (individual or shareholders) could however become subject to French income tax, even if the property is not rented out, should they be:
- resident of a country not having signed a double tax treaty with France,
- or considered as French tax residents under French tax provisions, and according to a double tax treaty if any.
The criteria to be subject to French income tax in the latter case are just one out of the following:
- living in France for more than 183 days during a year,
- having his family living in France,
- carrying in France a professional activity,
- having in France his main economic assets.
b) is subject to the so-called private capital gain tax provisions, under which the capital gain is
tax free after a certain period of ownership shown below (because of a reduction of capital gain per year),
and is subject within this time limit to the rate of 36,2% for non-EU (EEE) resident, or of 26,5% for EU (EEE) resident.
Knowing that there are two different scales of period of ownership:
- 22 years for the « tax » itself (19%)
- 30 years for the « social contributions » (17,2% if the seller is French or outside EEE resident, or 7,5% if the seller is EEE or Swiss resident).
This capital gains tax is completed by a “surtax” scaled but limited to 6%, in the case the gain was superior to 260.000 Eur.
Caution: only a private (direct or through a French SCI) ownership allows to be fully exempted of capital gains tax and surtax in case of a French tax resident selling his main residence (not through another company or structure)
(Beware: as you can understand, each case requires a detailed study)
At the present time, the few tax treaties that were allowing capital gains tax exemption
(Luxembourg, Denmark and Lebanon…) have all been reviewed so that only few exotic ones seem to be pending (but for how long?) together with high risks of being challenged by French Tax authorities as a Tax Abuse of Law.
c) is not subject to the 3% tax.
or is subject to the 3% tax in case of an SCI, but easily exempted of it (disclosing the names of their ultimate individual shareholders annually to the French tax authorities)
VAT in case of resale
This question may be an issue only in case of the owner being a VAT Subject who is performing heavy works to be completed on the property. (For instance a huge renovation over an existing property, or the construction of a new property over an existing buildable ground).
In this case, the resale may itself generate VAT at 20,00% rate, included in the price of resale, if it is performed within the 5 years of the end of the works.
But once again with the actual legal provisions in this field, this matter depends mostly on the VAT regime of the seller himself, and therefore each case requests a prior study with my
For any questions, our partner notary shall be ready to give you more precise information.