France: A Person Exempted From Tax Does Not Qualify As A "Resident" Under A Tax Treaty

Last Updated: 5 January 2017
Article by Christophe Flaicher, Bertrand Hermant and Michael Jaffe

A person is entitled to claim treaty benefits if that person could be considered as a resident under a tax treaty. The criteria to be met to qualify as a tax resident were not clear for some individuals or entities who were subject to tax but did not actually pay tax, as a result of their status or the availability of a tax holiday in their home country. This issue most commonly arises when dealing with foreign pension funds or non-profit organisations with respect to entities or individuals who do not pay any income tax in their home country, as is the case in some Middle Eastern countries.

The French Supreme Court1 stated that a company that does not pay any taxes in its home country, because of its status or activity, cannot be considered as a resident under a tax treaty. The Court considered that the fact that the person falls within the scope of the tax is not sufficient.

However, the question remains open for entities or individuals who are subject to tax on a specific basis, such as a forfeit basis. It is expected that this issue will be resolved soon in a case that is pending before the Administrative Court of Appeal. The case will have to determine whether taxation on a specific basis could be viewed as being "liable to tax" pursuant to a tax treaty and, accordingly, could be sufficient for the entity or individual to qualify for the right to benefit from tax treaty provisions.

It is worth noting that these cases dealt with the tax treaties signed by France with Germany, Spain and Lebanon. The analysis is dependent on the relevant tax treaty provisions.

Our recommendation

These recent decisions may have an impact on certain restructurings, if they rely upon tax treaty provisions. Therefore, we would recommend reviewing such structures, and the tax status of individuals, in order to check whether they may still rely upon tax treaty provisions following these recent decisions.

Acquisition of predominant real estate company's shares – end of the tax-free revaluation of the real estate held through an SCI?

When a company acquires a transparent vehicle (such as an SCI) holding a real estate asset, the acquisition price of the shares usually takes account of the latent capital gain at the level of the transparent vehicle. This means that the purchaser will be subject to tax on this latent capital gain at the time of the sale of the shares or the building.

For instance, assume that an SCI owns an asset with a tax basis equal to 50 and a fair market value of 100. The SCI shares are bought for 100 by an investor. The investor realises a step-up at the level of the SCI: the tax value of the asset will increase from 50 to 100. The investor will then be allowed to amortise the asset on the revalued basis, but he will also be subject to tax on the revaluation gain as the SCI is a transparent entity.

However, it is possible to eliminate the taxation of such latent capital gain by winding-up the transparent entity following the share acquisition. In such a case, the revaluation gain resulting from the step-up will increase the tax value of the shares (i.e. from 100 to 150, in our example). The winding-up would result in a capital loss (i.e. 150-100= (50)) for the shareholder which will be offset against the revaluation gain (i.e. 50).

The tax treatment of such operation has been confirmed by a ruling published by the French tax authorities in 2007 and, since then, many operators have taken advantage of this tax-free revaluation.

However, a recent decision dated 6 July 2016 (Sté Lupa) shone a light on this scheme, stating that this operation is only possible when there is effective double-taxation at the level of the SCI partner, which is not the case for a revaluation made immediately after the acquisition. That being said, this decision might be based on the specific fact-pattern of an intra-group restructuring involving a Luxembourg company.

In any event, operators should still be able to rely upon the ruling, but the French tax authorities may decide to revoke it at any time. In addition, there are some alternative strategies that may be implemented in order to eliminate the risk of the purchaser being taxed on this latent capital gain.

Our recommendation

Operators in the process of acquiring French real estate property or who have already purchased such properties through transparent vehicles such as an SCI should rethink their tax strategy following this recent decision.


1 French Supreme Court, 9 November 2015, n°370054 and n°371152

2 French Constitutional Court, 22 July 2016, n° 2016-554

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Topics
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions