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Tax efficient savings and investments in France

By Amanda Johnson - Topics: Assurance Vie, France, Tax Efficient Savings, Tax in France
This article is published on: 21st March 2023


Assurance Vie in France – In most countries, tax-efficient savings and investment schemes exist with the aim of encouraging people to save for the medium and long-term so they don’t become a burden on the state.

However, when we become resident in France the tax-efficiency that we enjoyed from our home schemes is usually lost. This is because, as a French resident, you are liable to French taxes on all your worldwide income and gains, except for anything that might be exempted by the terms of a Double Taxation Treaty.

Even if certain income is exempt from French taxes, it is usually the case that this exempt income must still be declared in France and will be included with your other income when calculating your French income tax liability. The fundamental point to note is that including such exempt income has the effect of increasing the rate at which other sources of income are taxed in France, including investment income.

In France, there are several tax-free accounts available for short-term savings such as:

  • the Livret A, available to both residents and non-residents, in which you can deposit up to
    €22,950 and earn interest of 0.5% per annum
  • the Livret Développement Durable, eligible to French resident taxpayers only for deposits up to
    €12,000, also earning interest of 0.5%
  • the Livret Epargne Populaire, eligible to French resident taxpayers only, paying an extra 0.5% interest for deposits up to €7,700 if your income doesn’t exceed a certain threshold.
    For medium to long-term investments (as opposed to savings), there is one product that stands head and shoulders above the rest and that is an Assurance Vie

What is an Assurance Vie?

An Assurance Vie (AV) is an insurance-based investment product. It can be as simple or as complicated as you wish to make it. Think of it as that old shoe-box that you keep your documents in, or maybe that fireproof metal cabinet for certificates and the like. Old and battered it may be, but an AV has some rather special properties:

  • The investments that you place within your AV are never touched by French income tax or capital gains tax whilst they stay inside the AV
  • The majority of investments are never subject to social charges whilst inside the AV. Be aware that this does not apply to Fonds en Euros, from which social charges are deducted annually
  • The AV is never locked. You can take your money out whenever you like, unlike a pension which has age restrictions
  • If you keep the AV going for at least eight years, you then qualify for a special income tax-free band on top of your normal allowances, together with low withholding tax rates
  • If your aim is to leave your financial assets to your chosen heirs (not just the ones Napoleon thought you should leave them to), you can leave each individual beneficiary a large sum completely free of French inheritance tax

Millions of French people use the AV as their standard form of savings and investments and many billions of Euros are invested this way via French banks and insurance companies. In addition, there is a much smaller group of companies that are not French, but have designed French compliant AV products aimed specifically at the expatriate market in France. These companies are typically situated in well-regulated EU financial centres, such as Dublin and Luxembourg. Before choosing such a company, however, it is important to establish that the company has a French fiscal representative, to ensure that you receive the same tax and inheritance advantages as a French equivalent product.

Some of the advantages of an international AV policy compared to French policies are:

  • It is possible to invest in currencies other than Euro, including Sterling and USD
  • There is a larger range of investment possibilities available, providing access to leading investment management companies as well as capital guaranteed products and funds
  • Documentation is in English, thus helping you to understand better the terms and conditions of the AV policy
  • The AV policy is usually portable which is of benefit if moving around the EU since in many cases the policy can be endorsed for tax-efficiency in other EU countries

How does an Assurance Vie work?
Your single lump sum investment or regular premiums are paid to an insurance company, which then places the money with the investment manager(s) of your choice. These are usually unit- linked types of investments, for example in equity or bond funds, but can also be in deposits or special products on offer from various financial institutions. You can invest in any number of different funds or products and these are all collated together by the insurance company to form a collective bond, which is your AV policy.

If you have chosen your investments wisely (with the help of your financial adviser), over the long-term the value of units you hold in the funds is likely to increase and so too is the value of your AV policy. However, you must be fully aware of and comfortable with the amount of risk that you are taking, since with any type of unit linked investment your fund value can go down as well as up, as a reflection of what is happening in investment markets. Over the long-term, however, the effect of short-term market volatility will usually be reduced.

Can my capital be guaranteed through an Assurance Vie?
A common feature of the French AV is the possibility of investing in Fonds en Euros. This is a special type of fund designed to form a very cautious base to your total investment, since your capital, as well as any interest and year-end bonus added to it, is guaranteed. The fund invests mostly in government and corporate bonds, although there can also be a little exposure to equities and properties with the aim of enhancing returns. During the year, your capital will earn interest and by law the insurance company must allocate most of your share of the return of the fund to your account, in the form of a year-end bonus. The balance of the return of the fund is kept in the insurance company’s reserves, to smooth out future investment returns, for example in times of poor market investment performance.

Due to the nature of the guarantees with Fonds en Euros, the rate of return is typically low, but is usually better than the interest that you might earn from a bank deposit with immediate access. However, this type of fund is regarded by the tax authorities as being so secure that social charges are levied annually on the gain (rather than only at the time that you take a withdrawal as would be the case with other investments within the AV). This effectively reduces the rate of return over the long term. Through some international AV policies there is the possibility to invest in structured bank deposit offerings, where the investment return is linked to the stock market, but with the security of a capital guarantee.

How do I choose what to invest in inside my Assurance Vie?
You may have strong views on this yourself, or you may have no ideas at all, but in all cases it helps if you have a good financial adviser at hand. His or her job is to help you understand the whole concept of investment and to help you establish your attitude to investment risk. Sadly, there is no realistic chance of a meaningful return on your savings without accepting some degree of risk. We have also seen in recent years that even leaving your savings in a bank can be risky, whether this is because you do not earn a real rate of return or because the bank fails due to poor management.

Your adviser will show you different types of investment options, explain how they work, what their track records are and how much risk is involved. You make the final decision, but his or her help can be invaluable. When the investments have been made, there should be follow-up meetings to review the performance of your investments. Your adviser may well recommend some changes depending upon the evolution of your own circumstances, or perhaps because of fund performance, or may have interesting new funds to introduce to you.

It is also possible to use the services of a Discretionary Fund Manager, with whom you agree an investment mandate (based on your specific investment objectives and risk profile), who then manages your money on a discretionary basis to achieve your financial goals.

Tax in France

How is Assurance Vie taxed?
Only the gain element of any amount that you withdraw is liable to income tax and the rate of tax is determined by the date on which premiums are paid.

Premiums paid before 27th September 2017:
For premiums paid before 27th September 2017, the taxpayer has the option to be taxed at the progressive rates of the barème scale or the Prélèvement Forfaitaire Libératoire (PFL) rates, as follows:

  • during the first 4 years at 35%
  • between 4 years and 8 years at 15%
  • post 8 years at 7.5%
  • social charges at the rate of 17.2%* are payable in addition

Premiums paid from 27th September 2017:
The Prélèvement Forfaitaire Unique (PFU) – also known as the Flat Tax – was introduced in the Project de Loi de Finances 2018, published on 27th September 2017. From this date the PFU applies to the total amount of interest, dividends and capital gains on the sales of shares received by the taxpayer. It also applies to certain gains on withdrawals from assurance vie contracts.

The Flat Tax rate is 30%, made up as follows:

  • a fixed rate of income tax of 12.8%; plus
  • social charges at the rate of 17.2%*

For premiums to assurance vie contracts paid from 27th September 2017, the tax rate will vary according to the age of the contract, and for contracts older than eight years according to the ‘threshold’ amount of capital remaining in the contract as at 31st December of the year prior to the withdrawal being taken.

The threshold amount is €150,000 per individual person (across all assurance vie policies), which is determined by reference to the amount of the premiums invested, reduced by any capital already withdrawn, and not the value of the contract.

The threshold is not cumulative between persons and therefore couples who are taxed as a household cannot share in each other’s thresholds. Thus, one spouse may reach the threshold level whilst the other does not, for example where one has say €200,000 capital invested and the other only has €80,000 invested.

The PFU applies to assurance vie contracts of less than eight years regardless of the amount of the outstanding capital. Thus, the PFU rate of 30% replaces the pre-27th September 2017 rates detailed above.

Therefore, according to the age of the contract, the following tax rates apply:

  • during the first eight years, the Flat Tax rate of 12.8%
  • over eight years, 7.5% up to the threshold, plus 12.8% above the threshold

* A lower rate of social charges at 7.5% applies if you are resident in France and hold the EU S1 certificate, whereby you are covered by the health system of another EU or EEA country.

Insurers are obliged to deduct the tax of 12.8% or 7.5% (depending on the duration of the contract) plus the social charges. Subsequently, for contracts older than eight years where the taxpayer has exceeded the threshold, any additional tax due is charged through the taxpayer’s annual declaration.

Tax-free allowance on all policies after the eight year holding period:
In addition to this, and in all cases regardless of the ‘premium paid’ date, after holding a policy for eight years a single taxpayer receives an income tax allowance of €4,600 per annum against the gain element of any withdrawals during the tax year. For a couple who are subject to joint taxation, this is increased to €9,200. Hence, providing that the gain element of total withdrawals made during the year does not exceed the allowance, then there is no income tax to pay. This might not sound a lot, but it is a very useful allowance, as can be seen in the following simple example.

Peter and Pam have an AV policy, which they start in January 2018 with an investment of €100,000. They do not make any withdrawals on this investment for the next eight years, and it is then worth €160,000 (hypothetical). A new car is then needed, and they need some cash to help pay for it, so they withdraw €20,000 from their AV. In this case €60,000 of their AV worth €160,000 is profit, and that is 37.5% of the total, so it is logical that the gain element of their withdrawal is €7,500 and €12,500 is their original capital.

The insurance company (assurance vie provider) will deduct income tax and social charges on the gain element when they pay out the withdrawal. Since the policy is over eight years old however, and they are subject to joint taxation, Peter and Pam have a tax-free allowance of €9,200. The gain will then be declared on their next tax return and they will receive a rebate of the income tax charged.

Does an Assurance Vie have other advantages?
Without doubt, the AV is effective for inheritance planning. There are age restrictions, but via an AV policy you can leave up to €152,500 to any number of beneficiaries, each of whom will pay no succession tax. In addition, AV policies are exempt from the strict French succession rules. You can leave your money to whomever you wish. Should you wish to leave more than this amount to any one beneficiary, they will pay tax at a rate of 20% on the next €700,000, and then at 31.25% above that.

Is an Assurance Vie right for me?
An Assurance Vie is a valuable asset, helping you to shelter your capital and income from unnecessary taxation. It can provide protection for you during your lifetime and protection for your loved ones when you are gone. However, everyone’s circumstances are different and it is essential that you take professional financial advice before investing into this type of product.

Why is now a good time to invest?

By Michael Doyle - Topics: France, Investment objectives, Investment portfolios, Investment Risk, Luxembourg
This article is published on: 9th March 2023


I have been working with a few clients over the past couple of years who were very nervous about investing for the longer term as the markets had been volatile.  Recently they decided to ‘push the button’ after we reviewed their situation together.

So, here are ten reasons why now could be a good time to invest:

1. Economic recovery: The global economy is recovering from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and this presents opportunities for investors to take advantage of growth opportunities in various sectors.

2. Low-interest rates: Interest rates are currently low, which can make borrowing cheaper and provide investors with a chance to invest in assets that are likely to yield higher returns.

3. Inflation protection: Investing in stocks, bonds, and other assets can provide protection against inflation, which can erode the purchasing power of your money over time.

4. Increased savings: Many people have saved more money during the pandemic due to reduced spending on things like travel and entertainment. This has led to an increase in the amount of money available for investment.

5. Technological innovation: The pandemic has accelerated the adoption of new technologies in many industries, and investors can potentially benefit from investing in companies that are at the forefront of innovation.

6. Diversification: A well-diversified portfolio can help investors spread their risk and potentially minimize losses if one sector or asset class underperforms.

7. Long-term focus: Investing is a long-term strategy, and the current market volatility should not deter investors from thinking about the long-term potential of their investments.

8. Behavioural finance: Understanding how emotions and biases can impact investment decisions can help investors avoid making costly mistakes.

9. Education and access: There are many resources available to investors to help them learn about different investment opportunities and strategies, and technology has made it easier than ever to invest from the comfort of your own home.

10. Social responsibility: More investors are looking to make investments that align with their personal values and beliefs, and there are now many options for socially responsible investing that can potentially provide both financial returns and social impact.

Now would be a great time to review your own situation. Either speak with your financial consultant or feel free to contact me for a no obligation review.

French Tax Returns

By Michael Doyle - Topics: France, Tax in France
This article is published on: 7th March 2023


It’s that time of year again where we all must start thinking about submitting our French tax returns.

Here are my 5 top tips for completing your tax return.

1. Gather all necessary documents: Before you start preparing your tax return, make sure you have all the necessary documents, such as your income statements, receipts for deductible expenses, and proof of any tax credits you may be eligible for, the figures taken from your bank account(s) and the relevant exchange rate(s).

Choose the right form: France has different tax forms for different types of taxpayers, so make sure you choose the right one. In general most people will need to declare their income on the main form (2042) and its related forms (2042C and 2042 pro), the 2047 for all foreign income and the 3916 for foreign bank accounts and investments.

3. Fill out the form accurately: Take your time to fill out the form accurately and completely. Make sure you provide all the required information, including your income, expenses, and any tax credits or deductions you may be eligible for. Remember to declare all bank and investment accounts as any omissions can lead to high penalties.

4. Submit the form on time: The deadline for submitting your tax return in France typically falls in May each year. Make sure you submit your form before the deadline to avoid any penalties.

5. Consider getting professional help: If you are unsure about how to fill out your tax return, consider getting help from a tax professional. This can help ensure that your return is accurate and that you are not missing out on any tax benefits.

This is also a great time to review your own financial planning needs.

Due to recent uncertainty in the markets many people are keeping their money in the banks.

Purely for illustrative purposes (as inflationary pressures are currently decreasing), if inflation did persist at say 7% for 10 years your spending power would halve over this period. Inflation across Europe has been higher than this throughout 2022.

Now is a good time to speak with your financial advisor.

Why did you move to France?

By Spectrum IFA - Topics: France
This article is published on: 23rd February 2023


How many of us dream about moving to a dryer warmer climate? Somewhere that has not only great weather but is packed with history, great architecture and a way of life that has a focus on community and family life.

Amanda Johnson made the move to live in the Loire Valley with her family back in 2006 and has never looked back!

Amanda helps many other expatriates either plan their finances before they move to France or assists clients living in the Loire Valley with their current and future tax and financial planning.

Amanda recently spoke to Kylie Lang from ‘Life in Rural France‘ about why she made the move and how wonderful life in France is.

You can read the full interview here:

Russia’s invasion and its effects on markets

By Michael Doyle - Topics: France, Luxembourg
This article is published on: 21st February 2023


Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has had far-reaching consequences on the global investment market, with investors worldwide facing significant challenges in maintaining returns amidst the geopolitical turmoil. In this article, we will explore how the invasion has affected global investment returns.

The Invasion and its Effects on Markets

On February 24, 2022, Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, triggering a significant geopolitical crisis that has had a severe impact on global markets. The initial response was swift, with investors responding by selling off their assets, causing a drop in prices in equities and other asset classes.

Stock markets around the world experienced significant drops as investors scrambled to assess the situation’s severity, with some seeing declines of as much as 5% in a single day. The selloff was particularly severe in Europe, where the German DAX and the UK’s FTSE 100 both fell sharply. In the US, the S&P 500 and Dow Jones also fell significantly.

Safe-haven assets like gold, the Japanese yen, and the Swiss franc, saw significant inflows as investors sought to protect their portfolios from further losses. Bond yields also fell as investors sought refuge in safe-haven assets, with the yield on the 10-year US Treasury note dropping to 1.5%, its lowest level since November 2020.

Sector-wise, energy companies, particularly those with operations in Europe, were the hardest hit. Companies like Royal Dutch Shell and BP saw significant declines, as the invasion threatened to disrupt the flow of energy supplies from Russia to Europe.

Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine

Investors React to the Ongoing Crisis
Investors have been closely watching the situation in Ukraine, with market analysts suggesting that the ongoing crisis could have a significant impact on global investment returns. The potential for further escalation of the conflict, coupled with the possibility of economic sanctions on Russia, has left many investors concerned about the potential impact on their portfolios.

Several analysts have suggested that investors should remain cautious and avoid taking unnecessary risks. In particular, those with exposure to companies that could be adversely affected by the ongoing crisis should be prepared to re-evaluate their investment strategies.

At the same time, some investors have seen opportunities in the market downturn, with some taking advantage of the lower prices to buy into equities that have been undervalued as a result of the crisis. This approach, however, requires a significant degree of caution, as the situation in Ukraine remains highly volatile, and the market could continue to experience significant swings.

The ongoing conflict in Ukraine has had a significant impact on global investment returns, with markets worldwide experiencing significant declines in response to the invasion. While some investors have seen opportunities in the market downturn, most have adopted a cautious approach, wary of the potential risks posed by the ongoing crisis.

As the situation in Ukraine continues to unfold, it is clear that investors will need to remain vigilant and prepared to reevaluate their investment strategies at short notice. The geopolitical turmoil has highlighted the importance of diversification, risk management, and a long-term investment approach that can weather short-term market volatility

If you would like to review your current investments or wish to consider taking advantage of today’s markets then it is advisable to speak with your financial adviser.

Finance in France – what’s new in 2023?

By Sue Regan - Topics: Financial Review, France, French Tax Changes
This article is published on: 12th January 2023


Firstly, I would like to wish you all a very happy, healthy and peaceful 2023!

As we are starting a new (tax) year I thought it would be helpful to update you on some changes that may affect you in 2023, both tax related and more generally.

Unsurprisingly, the main purpose of ‘la Loi de Finance’ (Finance Act) for 2023, published on 31st December 2022, is to help protect households and businesses from inflation.

Personal Tax Changes in 2023 for revenue received in 2022

In order to contain the effects of inflation on the level of household taxation, the Finance Act for 2023 has increased the tax brackets of the progressive ‘barème’ scale, applicable to income received in 2022, by 5.4%. That’s almost four times higher than last year. There are no changes to the rates of tax.

Increase in income tax brackets
The progressive barème scale for income received in 2022 is as follows:

Income threshold for single person household Tax rates
Up to 10,777 € 0%
From 10,078€ to 27,478 € 11%
From 27,479 € to 78,570 € 30%
From 78,571 € to 168,994 € 41%
over 168,994 € 45%

As France pools allowances for households of more than one person, the threshold for tax-free income received in 2022 by a household of two will be in the region of 29,000€.

Social charges
There have been no changes made to the rates of social charges for 2023 and they remain as follows:

Employment income 9.7%
Pension income 9.1%
Investment income 17.2%

The special lower rates also remain in place as follows:

The rate of social charges on pension income is reduced to 7.4% for those households where taxable income is less than around 2,000€ per month (or 3,000€ per month for a couple). Holders of the EU S1 certificate, and those who are not affiliated to the French health care system, are exempt from social charges on pension income, regardless of the amount received.

Investment income
As above, for holders of the EU S1 certificate, and/or those covered under the health care system of another EU/EEA country, social charges are reduced from 17.2% to 7.5% for investment and property income.

Taxe d’Habitation

Good news for homeowners and renters living in France! The phasing out of taxe d’habitation which began a few years ago will come to an end in 2023, with this property related tax being scrapped for all principal homes in France. This also includes the abolition of the TV licence (contribution a l’audiovisuel public).

However, second-home owners and owners of vacant properties are still liable to pay taxe d’habitation on these properties.

Wealth tax on real estate – Impôt sur la Fortune Immobilière (IFI)

The current threshold of 1,300,000€ will remain in place for 2023 with no changes to the scale rates of wealth tax.

Assurance Vie

There are no changes to the taxation of assurance vie policies or their inheritance planning benefits. Thus, these popular investment ‘wrappers’ remain a very attractive vehicle for both personal taxation and inheritance planning.

Finance in France

So, what else is there to know…………

Energy prices are going up
With inflation in France at its highest in decades and global energy prices having sky-rocketed in 2022, 2023 is set to start with a series of price hikes. Firstly, the 4% cap on energy tariffs went up on 1st January, meaning a potential increase of up 15% on gas and electricity bills. In practice, this means that average household bills are likely to go up by around 20€ a month.

Petrol subsidies come to an end
Petrol prices increase from January, with the government’s fuel rebate ending on December 31st. However, a fuel grant of 100€ is available for low-income workers who rely on their car for work. Full details can be found in this link to the government website Indemnité carburant de 100 € : comment ça marche ? |

Increase in the minimum wage
France’s minimum wage (or SMIC) has gone up 1.8%, putting the gross monthly wage at 1,709.28€ or 1,353€ net. Importantly, this figure is used as the basis for calculating the sufficient funds needed for a French visa, so we can expect the required minimum income to go up accordingly.

Increase in motorway tolls
French motorway tolls are set to go up from 1st February with an average 4.75% increase.

Expected increase to savings interest rates
The interest rate on the popular tax-free savings accounts, the Livret A and the Livret de Développement et Solidaire (LDDS), is re-assessed every six months and it is expected that the rate will be increased to at least 3% per annum on both accounts with effect from 1st February.

France is going paperless
You will have probably already noticed that some stores are asking if you want a receipt or not, and more and more shops are offering the option for an emailed receipt. From April, this more eco-friendly practice will become standard practice at all shops. Thus, if you still require a printed receipt, you will have to specifically ask for one.

Cold call relief
Some better news if, like me, you are constantly being harrassed by cold callers – new regulations from next March mean that commercial phone calls can no longer be made on weekends, evenings after 20h00, or lunchtime from 13h00 to 14h00.

Review your finances

The last few years have been somewhat different to say the least. A global pandemic swiftly followed by war in Europe, both of which we haven’t experienced for generations. These highly unusual events have proved very challenging for many including governments, health workers and investors. The start of a new year is always a good time to review your finances. I am here to help and I would be very happy to sit down with you for a review to ensure that your financial plan is on track to achieve your longer term objectives. Please contact me at or call me on 06 89 20 32 47.

Have you prepared ‘THE’ Folder?

By Sue Regan - Topics: France
This article is published on: 9th January 2023


I like to read articles written by my Spectrum colleagues, especially those working in France, but also those by colleagues working in other European countries as I find it interesting to read what the hot topics are in their areas and how they compare to France. I came across a very interesting one recently entitled ‘THE Folder’, written by my colleague, Gareth Horsfall, who lives and works in Italy.

The article is of universal interest and although the subject matter could be viewed as having rather depressing undertones, it includes some really useful tips on keeping our affairs in good order, not only for ourselves but, more importantly, to help those close to us who may be tasked with taking over at a time when we may not be around to/or capable of doing it ourselves. Under ‘normal’ circumstances this would be a stressful and difficult time for family but potentially far more difficult for anyone trying to deal with the affairs of someone who lives/lived in a different county, with little or no knowledge of that country’s legal or financial system and unable to speak the language.

I like to think of myself as being fairly well organised when it comes to keeping my ‘filing’ in order. I say ‘my filing’ because my husband sees finance and admin as my department (not surprising given my occupation) and he is more than happy to leave everything to me. Like many of you, I am sure, I have a drawer with lots of itemised dividers separating out all our important documents, statements, bills, birth & marriage certificates, etc so that I can lay my hands on everything very quickly, and I have a spreadsheet of our various bank accounts, investments and pension arrangements, etc so that I can keep track of everything.

For a while now, I have been mindful of the need to provide relatives with details of our affairs, especially as we live in France, which only further complicates matters for them if left to take over. However, on reading Gareth’s article, I realised that there is so much more I should do to make things as easy as possible for them if the unthinkable were to happen. So, I have made a start on putting together ‘Our Folder’ based on the very comprehensive list in Gareth’s article, which I have used below to share with you in the hope that it will be a useful guide for those of you who may need it.

The Folder

So what is ‘THE’ folder?
It is a single file (digital or physical – preferably both) where you keep all of your important personal and financial information together. It allows easy access to these documents in the event that you’re no longer around to help. It is really important to have it in place especially where one family member takes the lead with the family finances.

It seems like a lot of work – is it worth the effort?
Yes, absolutely!  A time of loss can be stressful enough without having to try and piece together the deceased’s financial affairs. Don’t underestimate the benefit this will provide to the executors of your estate if you have one place with all your financial and legal documents in an easy to understand format. I know from experience it will be very much appreciated – my dear Dad was a stickler for record keeping and had put together his version of his and Mum’s ‘Folder’ which made it much easier for my Mum, my sisters and I to sort things out after he passed.

However, preparing ‘THE’ folder is more than avoiding stress – if you leave behind an administrative nightmare you could delay the accessing of funds by inheritors and the potential for racking up sizeable legal fees.

So which is best…..physical or digital?
This comes down to personal preference, but I would recommend both, if possible.  Whether you choose to have a digital folder with all these documents in or not, you should at the very least have your documents scanned in case of fire or theft, and quite often companies will now accept scanned copies of documents instead of hard copies, if they can be certified or electronically signed.

A digital file can be password protected and you can give access to a trusted individual who can access it in the event of your death. (Remember they will also get access during your life, so ensure they are a ‘trusted’ individual). A Google file, for example, can be updated over time and to which you and a family member have shared access. This file can then be stored on your main computer, in the cloud or on an external hard drive.  You can use a physical folder to keep hard copies of all the same information together.

I will do both when building ours, as I still like to have paper copies, and I will share the digital folder with family members.

What goes in The folder

So what should go in ‘THE’ folder?


  • Wills / Testaments + details of the Notaire or legal firm that helped create it, if relevant
  • Instruction letter/bequests
  • Trust documents
  • Burial / Cremation wishes
  • A copy of a living will, should you have ‘end of life’ instructions that you want medical professionals to be aware of should you be unable to communicate these due to severe illness or disability
  • Copy passports and driving licences (in case originals go missing)

Birth, marriage and divorce

  • Personal birth certificate(s)
  • Deed Poll documents
  • Marriage certificate
  • Divorce papers
  • Birth certificates / adoption papers for minor children
  • Livre de Famille (if you have French nationality)

Life insurance and retirement

  • Life insurance policy documents, including beneficiary nomination forms
  • Details of any employer death in service benefits
  • Personal pension documents (including any beneficiary nomination forms)
  • Occupational / Final Salary pension details
  • Annuity documents
  • Details of any entitlements to state pensions

Bank accounts

  • List of bank accounts with account numbers, contact details, login details and passwords
  • Details of any credit cards
  • Details of any safety deposit boxes


  • Property, land and cemetery deeds
  • Timeshare ownership
  • Proof of loans made
  • Vehicle ownership documents
  • Stock certificates, brokerage accounts, investment platform details and online investment account details
  • Details of holding of premium bonds, government bonds and investment bonds (including assurance vie policies)
  • Partnership and corporate operating/ownership agreements ( including offshore companies)


  • Mortgage details
  • Proof of debts owned
  • Details of gifts (whether notarised or not)
  • Dates and amounts / values (potentially helpful when calculating inheritance tax liabilities)

Income sources, tax and social security

  • Making a list of all your sources of income, especially the ones which your family may not know about
  • Employer details
  • Social security affiliation (CPAM, URSSAF)
  • A copy of your most recent tax return or accounts

Monthly expenses (so they can be continued after death or accounts closed)

  • Utilities
  • Insurances – car, house, medical/Mutuelle, travel
  • Rent / mortgage
  • Loans
  • Subscriptions / membership details / TV supplier

Email and social media account details

Contact details

  • List of names and contacts numbers for: financial adviser, doctor, lawyer/solicitor/notaire, accountant, insurance broker etc
  • A trusted Handholder or Professional Translator who could translate documents and would be willing to attend meetings with family members who do not speak French
time for a review

How often should ‘THE’ folder be reviewed?

Firstly, it is sensible to note the date that it was last reviewed so that anyone using it has an idea of how up-to-date the details are. Going forward, reviewing the file on an annual basis should be sufficient.

And finally…
We’re coming into winter now – what better time to make a start? Ensuring that your papers are in order in the event of your sudden death is incredibly important when living in another country. It will provide you with peace of mind that your loved ones will not have too much difficulty in administering your estate and your family will be eternally thankful that you did it for them. Once it’s done be sure to tell someone about it. There is little point going to the effort of creating such a folder if no-one knows of its existence or where to find it!

If you need help with putting your folder together, are unsure where to start or would simply like a review of your financial situation please feel free to contact me below.

Tax credits in France

By Katriona Murray-Platon - Topics: France, Tax in France
This article is published on: 9th January 2023


Happy New Year! I wish you all a very happy, healthy and prosperous year in 2023! I hope you all had a nice Christmas. We made it to Disneyland in spite of the train strikes in France and then onto the UK for our first British Christmas since 2018! It was good festive fun!

As from 15th January 2023, the tax office will pay you a 60% advance on some tax credits and tax reductions. These include the tax credits/reductions for charitable donations, home help costs and childcare costs. This will be 60% of the amount declared in 2022.

In my last Ezine, I mentioned the fuel allowance. Now, since 22 December 2022, there is an allowance of between 50 and 200 euros for those using logs or pellets to heat their homes. This is for people with less than 2260 euros income per month for a single person or 4750 euros for a couple with 2 children. You will need to request this payment by going to this website

tax credits in France

Since 1st January, receipts and bank card receipts will only be printed if you specifically request them. Also, from 1st January, companies (Entreprises individuels and SCIs) can do their own formalities online on

No need to throw out your equipment when it breaks down. From 15 December 2022, it is even cheaper to repair your household appliances. There is a now a government allowance of between 10 and 45 euros off the price of repair depending on the type of appliance which works out to be around 20% of the repair costs. This only applies to appliances that are no longer covered by their warranty. For more details and to find an approved repair company go to:

Finally, in Spectrum news, from 16th to 20th January I shall be joining my colleagues for our annual conferences at the Gleneagles hotel in Scotland. As you know my name is Scottish and my father and his family are from Scotland, so I am very much looking forwards to going there and celebrating Spectrum’s 20th anniversary!

After five full years in the business I am beginning to get a sense of how variable each year can be. We have had three very strange years from covid and lockdown, to coming out of lockdown and getting vaccinations and then last year the war in Ukraine and inflation. Some analysts suggest that inflation may subside in 2023 but stop short of actually predicting this. Nobody has a crystal ball but I know what I do have that’s important which is my family, my friends and my clients. I’ve got you and you’ve got me, so whatever 2023 holds, I know that we can see it through together!

All the best for 2023.

Financial update in France

By Katriona Murray-Platon - Topics: France, Tax in France
This article is published on: 6th December 2022


The fuel allowance, tax returns & retirement planning

So here it is, Merry Christmas! I hope that you are having fun or planning to do so. There is much to organise before the end of the year, so before you get too wrapped up (excuse the pun) in Christmas preparations, I wanted to fill you in on some bits of news/financial points for the end of the year.

Given the increase in energy bills, the French government shall grant two one-off fuel allowances to help people pay their energy bills. Around 12 million homes will receive a one-off energy cheque. If you are eligible for the fuel allowance you should receive this €200 cheque automatically,. If your taxable income (revenu fiscal de référence par unité de consommation (RFR/UC)) is greater or equal to €10 800 € and less than €17 400, you will receive a cheque for €100. This cheque will be sent automatically from the end of December, you do not have to do anything to get it.

For the homes using “fioul domestique” : If you have already received the energy cheque for 2022 and you have used it to pay for your heating from a “fioul domestique” supplier you will automatically receive another cheque for €200 from November 2022

If you haven’t received this yet or you want to check whether you are available there is a website here and through this you could receive a cheque for between €100 and €200 depending on your situation. If you haven’t received any cheques and you can’t make a request on this website you can contact them via this website:

For those of you thinking of replacing your heating system with something more energy efficient, since the 29th October, the lower income households could receive €5000 of state aids (instead of €4000) and other households could get up to €4000 instead of €2500.

The annual social security ceiling (plafond annual de la Securité social) which is used to calculate various retirement contributions and the maximum allowed amount of benefits and French pensions has increased to €43,992. A monthly maximum of €3,666 will apply from 2023. This is the first time that this has increased in three years!

Please note that you have until 14th December to correct your 2021 tax return on your personal account on the website. After this date you will have to correct it using a paper return.

The 15th December is the last day to pay the taxe d’habitation for second home owners in France. You have 5 extra days if you pay online or by direct debit.

Tax in France

If you are self-employed in France and earn over €5000 per annum, you will have to pay CFE. This is a local tax and is based on the rental value of the space you use for your business. If you don’t rent premises for your business, you have to pay the minimum CFE and this will be calculated on your annual turnover. It all depends on the rate applied by your local authority. The CFE must be paid by 15th December. You can also spread the payments out over the year.

Finally, if you are still actively working in France and are likely to do so for the next 10 or 15 years or more, and you pay tax at least in the 30% tax bracket, it may be worth opening a PER. If you already have a PER, and you have some money to invest in it, make sure you do this by the end of the tax year, ie 31st December 2022. If you are in the 30% tax bracket, 30% of the amount you invest in the PER can be deducted from your tax (41% if you are in this tax bracket) up to a maximum amount of 10% of your net taxable income from the previous year and up to a maximum amount of €32,419 in 2022.

2022 has been a brilliant year for me, my best so far, and I have been so happy to welcome lots of new clients.

I want to thank all of you for your time and attention to these newsletters and your kind comments. I especially want to thank all my clients for entrusting me to set up their investments. As always if you have any questions on the above or any other matters please do get in touch.

I shall be away from 18th to 28th December, first to Disneyland Paris and then to the UK for a good ol’ British Christmas with my family. I will be checking emails and can do phone calls if necessary.

I wish you all a very Happy Holiday season and look forwards to speaking to you next year!

Katey Murray
The Spectrum IFA Group
Mob: 06 81 61 78 44
Tel: 09 53 28 88 22

Katey Murray The Spectrum IFA Group

International SIPPs

By Andrea Glover - Topics: France, International SIPPs
This article is published on: 22nd November 2022


What are they and how do they benefit a non-UK resident living in France?

Myself and my colleagues have seen a significant increase in enquires this year from clients who have private pension schemes in the UK. Many are having difficulties accessing pension benefits for the first time due to changes post BREXIT or their UK adviser has informed them that they can no longer work with them, because of the post BREXIT rules on ‘passporting rights’.

One of the solutions that has helped many of these clients is a scheme called an International Self Invested Personal Pension (SIPP). So, I am going to explain the background to this product and why it might be the appropriate home for your pension funds.

The SIPP was first introduced in the UK budget in 1989 and following further regulation became a registered pension plan in April 2006. SIPPs were introduced to encourage individuals to save for their retirement.

SIPPs are often set up by the provider using a master trust and the provider will normally be the scheme administrator and trustee. The individual then become a member of the scheme and investments are normally in the name of the provider or the trustee but are earmarked for the individual member.

The main advantage of a SIPP compared to a traditional personal pension is the level of investment flexibility the member has, as the range of available investments is much wider than a standard personal pension.

International SIPPs

An International SIPP is a UK SIPP that has been specifically designed for non-UK residents. The structure is similar to that of a SIPP and both are regulated by the UK Financial Conduct Authority.

An International SIPP provides the ability to invest in several currencies and some providers allow withdrawals in euros, paid directly to a French bank account.

As with a SIPP, the international version allows you to transfer your pension or consolidate several pension plans into one simplified scheme. More importantly, the International SIPP allows a locally based, regulated financial adviser to implement an investment strategy and assist you with overall retirement planning.

It is also important to note that a locally based adviser will have knowledge of the French tax treatment of any income from the pension and the various options available.

You can transfer from most private or company pensions to an International SIPP and you can also consider transferring from a defined benefit or final salary scheme, if you’re not already taking benefits. However, you can’t transfer from an annuity or many of the public sector and government schemes.

If you have a very large pension pot, a Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme (QROPS) may be a more suitable home for your pension funds, as it can help protect against future tax liabilities for those nearing the UK Lifetime Allowance (currently £1,073,100).

As with all such matters, it is important to seek advice from a regulated adviser to ensure that the appropriate recommendation is given for your individual circumstances.