French courts clarify tax refund issue


The French Administrative Supreme Court (Conseil d'Etat) has provided details on the admissibility of claims made by non-residents seeking a refund of withholding tax paid on dividends.

In a recent decision, the Court ruled that non-resident taxpayers must produce documents indicating the date of payment and the identity of the distributing company (or ‘paying agent’).

However, if taxpayers can prove that they are unable to obtain this information, their claim may still be admissible if taxpayers are able to produce a bank statement (or any equivalent document) issued by a financial intermediary. The documents should contain the International Securities Identification Number of the shares, their date of registration on the bank account, the date of the dividend payment and their gross and net amounts.

This information will allow the identification of the distributing company and enable the authorities to request any additional documents if necessary.

However, this exception only applies if the intermediary is based in a jurisdiction which has concluded a tax treaty with France containing an administrative assistance clause.

Author: Bettina Cassegrain, HLB Technical Director and Global Assurance Leader

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