Can I choose being taxed in UK or France?
I have been living in France for eight years and have been taxed here for seven years. I have been told that I have the choice of being taxed in France or the UK. My husband died three years ago. I am getting my house ready to go on the market next year and move back to England. Can I now ask to be UK-taxed and, if not, how soon can I change my place of tax, and how long will it take? L.L.
First point to clarify is that the country in which one is liable to taxation is a matter of fact, and not choice; choice has never been an option.
In addition, there are double tax treaties which clearly state the rules that apply to the two countries – the one you have left and the one you have moved to – specifically in order to establish which of these has the right to apply taxation.
Further to these, then, since you are residing in France, the French consider you to be a resident of France, and as such it is France that has the right to tax you on your worldwide income.
Accordingly, you are liable to taxation in France since your husband died, and you will have to wait until you actually return to the UK to be taxed in the UK and not France. Remember that France has a residency rule that not only includes the time you spend in France but also having your home here and managing your affairs from the country.
As to the time it takes to change, the answer is that it is immediate. Just write to the tax offices and tell France that you have left and tell the HMRC that you have arrived.
However, as taxation is applied in arrears, and due to the split tax years with the UK year being April to April and France the calendar year, it will take a couple of years for you to actually cease dealing with France and deal only with the UK.
Reader's query answered by Hugh MacDonald
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