Reader question: We have inherited a British property from a family member in the UK after they died. Do we need to declare this in France and pay French inheritance tax?
In some cases French inheritance tax must be paid on assets inherited from outside of France – but this is not one of them.
This is due to a Franco-British treaty on inheritance that means French inheritance tax does not apply where a resident of France inherits UK (or other non-French) assets from a UK resident. This applies to real estate but also to most other assets such as sums of money in UK bank accounts.
So, in this case, you will only pay UK inheritance tax on the property.
If the deceased had also owned property in France you would have needed to pay French inheritance tax on the French assets.
The UK/France inheritance treaty in your case overrides a default rule on international inheritances (in cases where no treaty alters this), which states that where a French resident inherits from abroad and the resident has lived in France for at least six of the last ten years, French inheritance tax must be paid on the entirety of the inherited assets.
In cases where French tax is payable on foreign assets a tax credit is available to set the foreign tax paid against French inheritance tax.
What about a declaration?
French law stipulates that a declaration of inheritance (déclaration de succession) should be made to the state in the case of a resident of France inheriting and the law does not mention an exception for exempt inheritances from abroad.
The only official exceptions are if you are the child or spouse of the deceased and the total value of the deceased’s estate was less than €50,000, or for other beneficiaries if the deceased’s estate was worth less than €3,000.
You can declare assets by sending the tax authorities the declaration within 12 months of the person’s death (if they died outside of France) and you can find a link to the necessary documents here.
Declarations of inheritance from outside France have to be sent to Direction des Impôts des Non-Résidents - you can find their address and contact information here.
One tax lawyer told The Connexion there may be a small fine if you are found not to have filed the necessary paperwork but there would not be a penalty based on a percentage of the inherited assets.