Must we declare UK account which pays no interest?

I read in Connexion there are severe penalties for not declaring foreign bank accounts. We live in France and make our declarations to the French tax system including all interest paid on our UK accounts and investments. However we hold a current account with a UK bank with no interest payable. We are unsure if or how we should declare this. TS

The French require a list of bank accounts held outside of France, and this is declared on the form 3916, or alternatively a sheet of paper stating: names of the account holders, name of the bank, the bank’s address, the account number, the nature of the account (cheque, deposit, etc), the date the account was opened and closed (if applicable).

All accounts which someone has in their name or to which they have access to as a beneficiary and so can use as if their own, need to be declared.
The form is normally to be submitted annually but it is usually acceptable to write “3916 aucun changement” (no change) in the additional information box on the main tax declaration form. Whether the account pays interest is not significant. The actual wording on the 3916 says it concerns all accounts held abroad that ‘habitually receive deposits of investments, shares or cash’. It says you must declare each account opened or used abroad in the tax year.

If you have already declared for this year and did not mention this account, it is still possible to write to the tax office to clarify the omission if you declared by paper forms. Changes and additions to online declarations can be made up until the date that the avis d’imposition assessments are issued in July, though it is best to do it as soon as possible.

I have the usufruit of a chalet in a ski resort which I let out in winter and, if possible, in summer. I do not use the chalet myself as I no longer ski nor walk in the mountains, though as the chalet is empty out of season I could use it. Is the fisc correct in therefore in maintaining I should pay the taxe d’habitation? And if I pay this, should my children and their friends pay the taxe de séjour when staying in it?

The taxe d’habitation is due by anyone having the use of property on January 1 each year, so as the property is yours to either use or let, then yes, the liability is due and so, yes, the tax office is correct in asking you to pay the taxe d’habitation. The taxe de séjour is due by anyone renting property for tourism purposes (unless this has been charged by the letting agent), so as family and friends would be expected to use the apartment without paying to rent it, no, you would not in these circumstances be required to pay the taxe de séjour on their occupancy.

If my husband and I (mid fifties) were to become French resident, with our only source of income from UK property lets - no French income, would we pay French social charges/other French social security charges on this UK-derived property income? K B.

According to the UK/France double tax treaty property income from the UK should not attract French tax or social charges, however the income can be taken into account if there is other income that is assessable in France, potentially putting up the income tax on this other income. As you do not have any that would not apply.

I currently receive the UK old age pension, which consists of a basic amount plus an extra amount that relates to the fact that I paid into SERPS during my working life. Now I read that the system is going to be changed so that everyone gets the same basic pension. Does this mean I will lose the extra bit that I currently gain from my SERPS contributions? J.L.

No, if you are already receiving your pension you will not have your entitlement reduced due to the new ‘single tier’ system which only applies to people who took their pension as of April 2016. Even for
people taking theirs for the first time since then, if they paid into a ‘second state pension’ in the past then they may be eligible for more than the basic single tier pension as part of transition measures. People can find out what they are currently eligible for at retirement age by contacting the International Pension Centre and asking for a state pension forecast (0044 191 218 7777).

The Connexion welcomes queries and regularly publishes a selection with answers.

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The information in this article is of general nature. You should not act or refrain from acting on it without taking professional advice on the specific facts of your case. No liability is accepted in respect of these articles. These articles are intended only as a general guide. Nothing herein constitutes actual financial advice.