Wealth tax abolition plans could attract more expats to France

by Ray Clancy on January 31, 2011

Lower taxes to attract expats to France

Proposals to change French wealth tax could attract British expats to the country as they face higher taxes and years of austerity in the UK, it is claimed.

In an attempt to make France more attractive to the wealthiest foreign expats, President Nicolas Sarkozy has proposed abolishing its wealth tax that currently sees residents with net assets worth over €790,000 Euros, or £675,000, are charged between 0.55% and 1.8%.   While the wealthy in Britain now pay a higher rate of 50% on income tax.

It is likely that more British expats will be attracted to living and working in France, according to the sponsors of a nationwide advice tour answering questions on French healthcare, tax, pensions, mortgages, schools, and doing business in France.

There are already 135,000 Brits registered to pay tax in France according to the National Institute for Statistics and Economic Studies in France. But according to the British Consul this number may be closer to 500,000 since many expats have not registered for tax.

Le Tour de Finance, a travelling forum with professionals on hand to answer pressing questions surrounding tax and finance, is aimed at expat entrepreneurs, retirees and high net worth individuals.

It begins on 01 March in the Southern Brittany city of Josselin, moves to various southern cities and circles back to the Alps, Normandy and northern Brittany regions by early June.

‘The proposed abolition of the wealth tax could see France become a real alternative to residing in the UK. As the UK faces years of austerity that include high taxation and a reduction in public services it’s likely those who can afford to leave will,’ said Mark O’Sullivan, director of dealing at Currencies Direct, a sponsor of Le Tour de Finance.

‘The low value of Sterling is still a hurdle to many but should we see the value of the pound rise then many will choose the expat lifestyle over the grim reality of life in the UK, sell up and leave,’ he added.

The tax changes could also be good for the French property market if more wealthy Brits move to France, according to property consultants, Knight Frank. It has found that 50% of International enquiries relate to buying in France.

‘Scrapping wealth tax would provide an edge for France, which has retained strong demand for properties even in these uncertain times. Tax is always an area of concern for buyers, whether buying a holiday home or moving on a medium or long term basis,’ said Paddy Dring, head of International Property at Knight Frank.

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