Reader question: We made our first tax return last year in France, having moved here in 2020, and we have residency cards. Now we have been told that we will always be tax residents in the UK regardless of the time spent in both countries as we have a house we own there and live in for a couple of months a year, plus a buy-to-let property there, plus my teacher’s pension, which are all considered ‘ties’. Is this right? L.P.
Rest assured that, from what you say, your residency status in France seems to be safe.
International tax law says you are a tax resident of one country until the residency rules of another country bring this into question and ultimately make you a resident of this, second, country.
France has several residency tests, including having a ‘home’ here, running your affairs from France, spending most of the year here and running a business here. It seems that you comply with the first three, so would be considered a tax resident of France and not of the UK.
Your comment that you will remain UK-resident regardless of time spent in both countries is incorrect, given not only the French rules, but the fact that one of the UK’s tests relates to spending 183 days or more in the country in its tax year (April 6 to April 5), which you do not do.
Not a case of where you have a house but where you have your home
Furthermore, the issue is not if you have a ‘house’ in one of the countries, but if it is your ‘home’. Only you know which property is home and which is used for holidays or is a secondary residence. The buy-to-let property is not used to live in so is not relevant to your residency.
It seems that what you have been told is more to do with how the UK determines tax residency, or is a misunderstanding of tax laws, but this is to ignore international tax law, which supersedes national laws.
Having said that, it might be prudent to seek advice from a professional to whom all of the facts can be given to confirm your status.